Just before midnight on Thursday, Alabama officials decided to postpone the execution of a man convicted in the 1988 murder-for-hire killing of a preacher’s wife because they couldn’t find a suitable vein to administer the fatal drugs.
The prison staff was at it for about an hour to get the two needed intravenous lines connected to 58-year-old Kenneth Eugene Smith, according to Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner John Hamm.
Even though the first line was successfully established, officials were unsuccessful with the second line after much trials. Also, they explored the central line, which has to do with placing a catheter into a large vein, but that was unsuccessful as well due to limited time.
“We were not able to have time to complete that, so we called off the execution,” Hamm said.
Due to challenges in establishing an IV line and a looming deadline, the execution was called off, which makes it the second execution the state has canceled since September.
Earlier in the evening, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay of execution, but the U.S. Supreme Court lifted it at approximately 10:20 p.m., paving the way for Smith’s execution. However, the state opted to postpone the lethal injection until over an hour later.
The postponement followed Smith’s final appeals, which centered on issues with the intravenous lines at the last two scheduled lethal injections in Alabama. As it stands now, the state must go back to court to request a new execution date because the death warrant expired at midnight.
According to a prison spokesperson, Smith was taken back to his usual cell on death row.
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Alabama man Kenneth Eugene Smith collected $1,000 as payment from Elizabeth Sennett’s husband
Smith was one of two men who received $1,000 each to kill Elizabeth Sennett on behalf of her husband, who was heavily in debt and wanted to collect on insurance, according to prosecutors.
The killing and the identities of those responsible for it shocked small north Alabama community.
The execution did not take place as planned due to Smith’s last-minute appeals, according to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey.
“There is no denying that Kenneth Eugene Smith committed a crime when he decided to prioritize $1,000 over Elizabeth Dorlene Sennett’s life. Elizabeth’s family was promised over 30 years ago that justice would be served by a lawfully imposed death sentence,” Ivey said.
Gov. Ivey is saddened justice could not be served that night due to last-minute legal attempts.