Alabama requests a date to execute an inmate via nitrogen hypoxia for the first time

Alabama’s Attorney General has requested the state’s supreme court to allow the first-ever execution through nitrogen hypoxia for convicted murderer, Kenneth Eugene Smith.

Driving the news: Steve Marshall, the Attorney General, requested a date for Smith’s execution, potentially to be carried out using nitrogen hypoxia.
* Smith was initially scheduled for execution via lethal injection on Nov. 17, 2022, but he objected to this method and proposed nitrogen hypoxia instead.
* After issues with the lethal injection, the Supreme Court ruled in May that Smith’s execution could proceed using nitrogen hypoxia.

New execution method: Nitrogen hypoxia involves forcing the person to breathe pure nitrogen until death.
* It is a largely untested method, and Alabama would be the first state to use it for an execution, though Oklahoma and Mississippi have approved it.
* There are concerns about the method, including lack of information on aspects such as nitrogen gas administration, its dosages, and safety measures for the execution team.

Case background: Smith was convicted for involvement in a murder-for-hire scheme in 1988.
* A pastor hired Smith, among others, to kill his wife for insurance money.
* Smith was first convicted and sentenced to death in 1989, had his sentence appealed in 1992, then was again found guilty in a 1996 trial, after which he was sentenced to life in prison without parole, but a judge overruled the jury’s decision and gave him the death penalty.

Current state of lethal injections in Alabama: The state had suspended lethal injections after the failed attempt on Smith in 2022, but resumed them in July.
* This marked the third failed lethal injection attempt in Alabama since 2018.

View original article on NPR

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