A death row inmate who previously survived a botched execution has now been given a new execution date using a grisly, untested method.
Kenneth Eugene Smith, who carried out an execution by lethal injection last year, will now be executed with nitrogen gas on January 25.
Smith was one of two men convicted in the 1988 murder-for-hire killing of Elizabeth Sennett in northwest Alabama.
Prosecutors reported that Smith and his accomplice received $1,000 to kill Sennett on behalf of her pastor husband, who was heavily in debt and wanted to collect on insurance.
A week later, her husband took his own life.
While the other convict was executed in 2010, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday announced the new date for Smith’s execution using the previously untested method.
In a written statement, Ivey’s spokeswoman Gina Maiola said: “The execution will be carried out using nitrogen hypoxia, the method the inmate previously requested as an alternative to lethal injection.”
Last week, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said the court decision “cleared the way” for Smith’s execution by nitrogen hypoxia.
He described how Sennett’s family had waited “an outrageous 35 years for justice to be served.”
If the untested execution method is successful, Alabama will become the first U.S. state to attempt nitrogen gas execution.
However, there is a legal fight against what is described as “human experimentation” on the convict.
Smith’s attorney, Robert Grass, filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday to stop the execution.
He said, “Alabama is attempting to make my client a test subject for this novel and experimental method.”
“The never-before-used method is unjustified – and the record was never fully disclosed to him or his attorney.”
“We remain hopeful that those reviewing this case will recognize how unfair this method is.”
Proponents believe it is a painless method of execution. Nitrogen hypoxia death is approved in three states – Alabama, Oklahoma and Mississippi – but has never been used.
Death row inmates like Smith would be forced to breathe pure nitrogen, depriving them of oxygen until they die.
Although the air we breathe is 78 percent nitrogen, it is harmless when combined with oxygen.
According to reports, prisoners are likely to be restrained and possibly sedated before being gassed and rendered unconscious.