Alabama sets date for first execution using nitrogen gas method
Published 10:51 am Thursday, November 9, 2023
Alabama has set a January execution date for what would be the nation’s first attempt to put an inmate to death using nitrogen gas.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday announced a Jan. 25 execution date for Kenneth Eugene Smith using the new method. Smith was one of two men convicted in the 1988 murder-for-hire slaying of Elizabeth Sennett in northwestern Alabama.
“The execution will be carried out by nitrogen hypoxia, the method previously requested by the inmate as an alternative to lethal injection,” Ivey spokesperson Gina Maiola wrote in an emailed statement. The statement referenced how Smith’s attorneys noted the state was developing the nitrogen method when fighting previous efforts to execute him by lethal injection.
The announcement of the execution date moves Alabama closer to becoming the first state to attempt an execution by nitrogen gas, although there will be a legal fight before it is used. Nitrogen hypoxia has been authorized as an execution method in Alabama, Oklahoma and Mississippi, but no state has used it.