Lawyers say “wrongful” Alabama execution subjects prisoner to “increased levels of pain and torture”

Alabama prison staff tied up an inmate in the death chamber, preventing the execution from proceeding despite a court order at the time, and subsequently subjected him to multiple needle pricks, including in the neck and collarbone area, while an officer He was holding her head. , the lawyers wrote in a court filing.

advocate for Kenneth Eugene Smith Friday claimed the state violated the US Constitution, various court orders and its own lethal injection protocol during a “wrongful” execution attempt earlier this month. Smith’s attorneys are asking a federal judge to forbid the state from making a second attempt to execute him, saying Smith was already subjected to an “increasing level of pain and torture” the night of the failed execution.

Kenneth Eugene Smith
Kenneth Eugene Smith

Alabama Department of Corrections

Smith’s attorneys wrote in a complaint filed in federal court, “The defendant’s treatment of Mr. Smith does not fall within society’s standards for constitutional execution. The wrongful execution was horrific and extremely painful to Mr. Smith.” The lawsuit accuses the state of violating the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment, seeks monetary damages and seeks an injunction to prevent Alabama from “making a second attempt to execute Mr. Smith.”

The Alabama Department of Corrections declined to respond publicly to Smith’s account of the aborted execution on Monday, saying the department “cannot comment on ongoing litigation.”

Kay Ivey announced last week that Alabama Gov. temporary pause in execution to review the state’s capital punishment system, citing concerns from victims’ families that death sentences were delayed.

“For the sake of the victims and their families, we’ve got to get this right,” Ivey said.

Smith was to be put to death by lethal injection on November 17 for the murder-for-hire murder of Elizabeth Dorlene Sennett in 1988. Prison officials said they put off Smith’s execution for the night because they were unable to set up IV access between the 100-minute window between the court clearing the way for it to begin and the midnight deadline. Of.

Smith’s attorneys say the state tied Smith up in the death chamber around 8 p.m. and left him there, even though the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals had issued a stay at 7:59 p.m. He was not informed and had no way to communicate with his lawyer or family while he was strapped to the gurney, his lawyers said.

“The execution continued in defiance of the stay of the Eleventh Circuit, Mr. Smith bound to a cane until about midnight,” the lawyers wrote.

According to court filings, the US Supreme Court lifted the stay at 10:20 p.m., and it was around that time that the execution team began trying to set up IV access.

His lawyers wrote that Smith had been stabbed multiple times in his arms, hands, neck and collarbone area “far beyond the point at which the executioners should have known that it was not reasonably possible to reach a vein”. .

Smith’s lawyers wrote that the team swung Smith into an “inverted crucifixion position” while strapped to a gurney and left him there for several minutes. The attorneys said they also believe the team injected Smith with “some sort of sedative and/or anesthetic” – violating assurances to a federal judge in court proceedings that they would not use intramuscular injections. We do.

Lawyers said the prison team used a large gauge needle to try to establish a line through a blood vessel below the clavicle. When Smith did not comply with a request to turn his head, a deputy warden “grabbed Smith’s head in both his hands, turning it to the side, saying, ‘Kenny, it’s for your own good.'”

After several attempts, the execution team left the chamber and Smith and his lawyers later learned shortly before midnight that the execution had been called off for the night.

It was the second instance of the state being unable to execute an inmate in the past two months and its third since 2018.

An undated photo provided by the Alabama Department of Corrections shows inmate Allen Eugene Miller

Alabama Department of Corrections via AP

allen eugene miller Said prison staff stuck needles in her for over an hour as they tried to find a vein during the abortion lethal injection in September. At one point, they hung him vertically on a gallows before state officials decided to call off the execution.

State completed an execution in JulyBut only because of the same problem with starting an IV line at least partially after a three-hour delay.

The Alabama Department of Corrections has disputed that the cancellation of Smith’s execution was a reflection of problems. The department blamed the late court action, saying that “ADOC had a short deadline to complete its protocols.”

Sixteen people have been hanged in America this year.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Alabama has carried out 70 executions since 1976 and currently has 170 inmates on death row.

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