Inmate’s Lawyers Accuse State Of Using Him As ‘Test Subject’ For ‘Experimental’ New Execution Method

Photo by RICHARD BOUHET/Getty Images

Samuel Spencer Contributor
Font Size:

An Alabama inmate’s lawyers are arguing the state wants to experiment on their client when it executes him.

The inmate, Kenneth Eugene Smith, was convicted of killing a preacher’s wife in a murder-for-hire scheme in 1988, according to NBC. Smith has awaited his ultimate punishment since the late 1980s, but has avoided execution for more than 30 years.

Smith was scheduled to be executed in November of 2022, but on the day of his execution prison staff had to stop the procedure because they could not find a “suitable vein to inject the lethal drugs.” Because of this, the state was forced to reconvene and set a new date for his execution, says the NBC.

The state then moved forward and approved Smith’s execution by nitrogen hypoxia. Nitrogen hypoxia is “caused by forcing the inmate to breathe only nitrogen, depriving them of oxygen and causing them to die,” according to the Associated Press.

Only three states have approved this method of execution and this would be the first time it has ever been practiced. (RELATED: Prison Releases Video Showing Murderer’s Escape)

Smith’s attorneys are calling for the state to reconsider this “experimental” method, says NBC.

“The state seeks to make Mr. Smith the test subject for the first ever attempted execution by an untested and only recently released protocol for executing condemned people by the novel method of nitrogen hypoxia,” Smith’s attorneys wrote in their official request on Friday.

Smith’s attorneys and many others are against this new method of execution. One physician described nitrogen hypoxia as “the gaseous canister version of a knee on the neck,” and says that “US states that plan to use it must be stopped.”

Smith’s partner in crime was executed in 2010, according to NBC.