Is Kenneth Eugene Smith Still Alive? Death Row And Murder Conviction


Kenneth Eugene Smith Got Death Sentence For Murder Of Elizabeth

After two years of failed execution attempts from lethal injection, Kenneth Eugene Smith was executed on January 25, 2024, by nitrogen hypoxia. Despite questions and appeals about the ethics of the untried method, the Supreme Court gave a nod of approval to Alabama State for the procedure.

With this, the homicide convict Kenneth became the first death row inmate in the US and the world to be executed with nitrogen hypoxia.

Is Kenneth Eugene Smith Alive? Botched Execution In 2022

Kenneth’s execution in 2024 through the newly introduced method of “nitrogen hypoxia” rallied his name as the first-ever person in the world and the US to die with this method.

Smith, born on July 4, 1965, was arrested for the charges of 1988 murder-for-hire of Elizabeth Sennett in Colbert County, Alabama. After being found guilty of homicide and a nearly decade-long trial, he got a death sentence in 1996.

Murder Convict Kenneth Eugene Smith Sentenced For Execution Via Nitrogen Hypoxia
Murder Convict Kenneth Eugene Smith Sentenced For Execution Via Nitrogen Hypoxia (Source: BBC)

Fast forward to two decades as a death row inmate, Smith was set for execution via lethal injection on November 17, 2022. At 10:20 PM, the officials began the injecting procedure; however, even after trying for hours, they failed to find a vein to inject him lethally.

[The death sentence protocol via lethal injection requires two specific veins to inject; however, officials found only one of the veins.]

As a result, his execution was called off at approximately 11:20 PM.

Death Sentence By Nitrogen Hypoxia

After amends to death warrants that allow Department of Corrections personnel to have additional time to carry out the execution, the Alamba court scheduled another execution for Smith.

The murder convict was scheduled for execution via nitrogen hypoxia on January 25, 2024. His execution was carried out at 6 PM (CST) at William C Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore and was pronounced dead at 8:25 PM.

Capital punishment as nitrogen hypoxia is a method where an inmate is deprived of oxygen, allowing that person to breathe only nitrogen using a face mask.

Former Alabama State Sen. Tripp Pittman, who introduced the bill in 2018, called it a “humane method”; many oppose it, stating questions on the ‘ethics’ of humanity.

Execution Room For Nitrogen Hypoxia
Execution Room For Nitrogen Hypoxia (Source: NY Post)

The ethical challenge came as it is an untested method and may cause an intensely painful death as it could induce vomit and choking. Moreover, if not carried out properly, the gas leakage could pose a danger to the execution team.

Court Declined To Halt Kenneth Eugene Smith’s Execution

Smith’s attorneys filed two legal complaints in January 2024 regarding his execution with the new method. However, the Alabama Supreme Court denied his request to stay his execution and did not include additional comments.

One of his cases at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals proposed a possibility that nitrogen asphyxiation could subject Kenneth to a painful/prolonged death or leave him in a vegetative state.

On the counter, Solicitor General Edmund LaCour argued it a “painless death” as Smith would lose consciousness quickly.

Kenneth Eugene Smith (Left) With His Spiritual Adviser
Kenneth Eugene Smith (Left) With His Spiritual Adviser (Source: The Intercept)

In his second appeal, Smith argued that his second execution (after a failed attempt in 2022) would be “cruel and unusual punishments” under the Eighth and 14th Amendments of the US Constitution, but to no avail.

So, his lawyers petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay on his execution- the world awaits the update!

Also Read: Who Is David Brinkley? Wife, Children, And Cause Of Death

Why Was Kenneth Eugene Smith Jailed? Details On Murder Case

Kenneth was arrested and served with a death sentence for murder-for-hire (contract killing) of 45-year-old Elizabeth Sennett on March 18, 1988.

According to legal documents, Elizabeth’s husband, Charles Sennett Sr., a Church of Christ pastor, hired one of his tenants, Billy Gray Williams, for the assassination of his wife.

So, Billy recruited then-23-year-old Kenneth Smith and 41-year-old John Forrest Parker for assistance, who got $1,000 each.

Kenneth's Mugshot After His Arrest At The Age Of 23
Kenneth’s Mugshot After His Arrest At The Age Of 23 (Source: BBC)

After a week of Mrs. Sennett’s murder, Charles Sr. committed suicide; he fatally shot himself after learning about being a suspect in the incident.

Some sources report that Charles Sr. schemed to collect insurance on his wife’s death. On the other, some reports state that he admitted to his family having an affair and having Elizabeth killed before committing suicide.

What Happened To Homicide Convicts?

After arrest and trial, the jury convicted Kenneth Eugene Smith of murder with a vote of 10-2 in November 1989, which got him a death sentence.

However, after three years, the judgment was overturned in 1992, citing that the jury was biased. So, a re-trial at Jefferson County in 1996, with a jury vote of 11-1, called for Smith’s life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

But a trial judge overruled the jury and sentenced Kenneth to death. He was executed on January 25, 2024, making him the first person in US history to be executed by nitrogen hypoxia.

Billy Gray Williams, an accomplice in the crime, got a sentence of life imprisonment without parole and died in November 2020 due to illness. Another accomplice, John Forrest Parker, got a death sentence and was executed via lethal injection in June 2010.

Read More: What happened to political commentator Michael Brooks? Cause of Death?

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