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A first execution by nitrogen inhalation in Alabama

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Protesters gathered in front of the Capitol in Montgomery , Tuesday in Alabama, to denounce the upcoming execution of Kenneth Eugene Smith.

Agence France-Presse

The American state of Alabama is preparing to put a convict to death on Thursday by inhaling nitrogen, a world first denounced by the UN, which compared this mode of execution to a form of “torture”.

L'execution of Kenneth Eugene Smith, definitively sentenced in 1996 to the death penalty for the murder of a woman ordered by her husband, will be the first of the year in the United States, where 24 executions were carried out in 2023, all by lethal injection.

The Republican governor of this southeastern state, Kay Ivey, set Thursday, 6 a.m., as the start of the 36-hour period during which execution may take place.

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Kenneth Eugene Smith

A previous attempt to execute Kenneth Eugene Smith by lethal injection on November 17, 2022 was called off < em>in extremis. The intravenous drips to inject him with the deadly solution could not be placed within the legally allotted time even though he had been tied up for several hours, according to his lawyers.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">L'Alabama is one of three American states that authorizes executions by nitrogen inhalation, in which death is caused by hypoxia ( depletion of oxygen).

Last week, the High Commission of the The UN Human Rights Council (OHCHR) said it was alarmed by this planned execution using a new and untested method, hypoxia in the environment. x27;nitrogen.

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This could constitute torture or other cruel or degrading treatment in of international law, warned a spokesperson for the High Commission, Ravina Shamdasani, who called for a stay of this execution.

The Alabama nitrogen hypoxia execution protocol does not provide for sedation, while the American Veterinary Association (AVMA) recommends sedation. #x27;administer a sedative to animals, even large ones, when they are euthanized in this way, the spokesperson stressed.

Kenneth Eugene Smith, whose appeals in Alabama were rejected, appealed to the United States Supreme Court on the grounds that this new execution attempt would violate his constitutional rights. However, the country's highest court, with a conservative majority, rejected his request for a stay on Wednesday.

In its written arguments to the Supreme Court to oppose it, the State of Alabama even went so far as to present hypoxia to the ' nitrogen as perhaps the most humane mode of execution ever invented.

Kenneth Eugene Smith was convicted of the 1988 murder of 45-year-old Elizabeth Dorlene Sennett. He was ordered by the victim's husband, Charles Sennett, a heavily indebted and unfaithful pastor who had wanted people to believe to a burglary gone wrong.

Despite the husband's suicide, the police had reached the two murderers. Kenneth Eugene Smith's accomplice, John Forrest Parker, was sentenced to death and executed in 2010.

Kenneth Smith was also sentenced to the death penalty for the first time, but the trial was overturned on appeal. At his second trial in 1996, jurors were divided on the sentence: 11 out of 12 recommended a life sentence.

However, in his case as in that of his accomplice, the judge had ignored the opinion of the jurors and had sentenced him to capital punishment, a possibility which existed at the time in a few States but is now abolished throughout the United States.

In its annual report published in December, the specialized observatory Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) highlighted that most prisoners will be executed in 2023 in the United States would probably not be sentenced to death today. He cited among the reasons the mental health problems and trauma of the defendants as well as legislative changes to pronounce the death penalty.

The death penalty has been abolished in 23 US states, while six others observe a moratorium on its application by decision of the governor.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116