A New Death Penalty Method?

(ConservativeSense.com) – Alabama has proposed using a new method of execution for condemned prisoners: inhalation of nitrogen gas. Court officials in the Yellowhammer State described the procedure in a court filing and suggested that a mask be placed over the face of the condemned, who then breathes normally until the nitrogen stops the convict’s heart. The execution method has already been approved in Alabama, Oklahoma, and Mississippi, but none have carried it out.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall asked the state Supreme Court to set a date for the execution of 58-year-old Kenneth Smith and requested that the nitrogen method be used. Smith’s execution was set for November last year, but he petitioned the court to change the form of execution from lethal injection to what is known as nitrogen hypoxia.

Nitrogen is breathed safely by humans and makes up 78% of the air we inhale; it is safe when mixed with the requisite amount of oxygen. However, when oxygen is not present and a person only breathes nitrogen, the body will shut down.

In November, the state Supreme Court rejected Kenneth Smith’s request for a stay of execution and granted the use of lethal injection. A botched job, however, meant that corrections officers couldn’t find a vein before the time limit on the death warrant had passed.

A jury convicted Kenneth Eugene Smith of the murder-for-hire killing of a preacher’s wife in 1988. Reverend Charles Sennett hired Smith to murder his wife, Elizabeth Sennett, so he could collect on her life insurance policy. The Reverend hired Smith and his colleague John Forrest Parker to do the evil deed and paid them a mere $1,000 each. Parker was executed in 2010, and Reverend Sennett committed suicide when it was obvious that the police suspected his involvement in the murder.

If he dies of nitrogen hypoxia, Kenneth Smith will go to the standard execution chamber, but instead of a needle in his arm, a mask will be placed over his face until he dies.

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