Alabama’s failed lethal injection is an unprecedented third since 2018

Alabama’s recent inability to perform lethal injections is unprecedented nationwide, according to a group that prosecutes the death penalty.

The Death Penalty Information Center told The Associated Press on Friday that no other state has had to halt an ongoing execution since 2017.

The execution of 57-year-old death row inmate Kenneth Eugene Smith was called off before the midnight deadline on Thursday because state officials could not find a suitable vein.

It was the second such case where it was not possible for the state to kill an inmate in the past two months and the third since 2018.

Execution of Alabama man who killed preacher’s wife stopped for bizarre reasons

This undated photo provided by the Alabama Department of Justice shows inmate Kenneth Eugene Smith, who was convicted of the 1988 murder of a preacher's wife.  Smith, 57, is scheduled to receive a lethal injection on Thursday, November 17, 2022, at a southern Alabama jail.

This undated photo provided by the Alabama Department of Justice shows inmate Kenneth Eugene Smith, who was convicted of the 1988 murder of a preacher’s wife. Smith, 57, is scheduled to receive a lethal injection on Thursday, November 17, 2022, at a southern Alabama jail.
((Alabama Department of Corrections via AP).)

An execution was completed in July after a three-hour delay, caused in part by the same problem starting an IV line.

“I think Alabama clearly needs to explain something, but also think about what’s going wrong with its execution process,” said Ngozi Ndulue, the center’s deputy director. “The question is whether Alabama will take this seriously.”

However, the Alabama Department of Justice denied that the cancellation was a reflection of problems, blaming a delayed court action for a “short timeframe to complete the record.”

Officials said they called off the night’s execution after being unable to complete it within the 100-minute window between the U.S. Supreme Court clearing the way to begin at around 10:20 p.m. and the carry out the death sentence process.

The court overturned a stay by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals earlier in the evening, but the state ruled an hour later that the injection would not be given.

FILE - This photo shows the gurney in the execution chamber at Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Oct. 9, 2014.

FILE – This photo shows the gurney in the execution chamber at Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Oct. 9, 2014.
(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, file)

“We have no concerns about the state’s ability to conduct future lethal injection procedures,” the Alabama Department of Corrections said in an emailed statement to the outlet, saying it will continue to review its processes to assess and make areas for improvement identify.

Fox News Digital’s request for comment from the department was not immediately answered.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey blamed Smith’s last-minute appeals for preventing the execution from progressing as planned.

Kenneth Eugene Smith chose $1,000 over Elizabeth Dorlene Sennett’s life, and he was guilty, no question. About three decades ago, Elizabeth’s family was promised that justice would be served by a lawful death sentence,” she said. “Although that justice could not be enforced tonight because of last-minute legal attempts to delay or cancel the execution, it was the right thing to try.”

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Smith’s shifts say they believe he may have been strapped to a stretcher for four hours, although final appeals were still pending after seeing him.

“Mr. Smith undoubtedly has injuries from the execution attempt – and certainly physical evidence and testimonies that must be preserved – that can and should be photographed and/or filmed,” Smith’s attorneys wrote.

Gov. Kay Ivey answers reporters' questions during a news conference at the Alabama State Capitol Building in Montgomery, Alabama on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

Gov. Kay Ivey answers reporters’ questions during a news conference at the Alabama State Capitol Building in Montgomery, Alabama on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.
(Reuters)

The state must go back to court to secure a new execution date.

After surviving the attempt, he was returned to Holman Prison.

Smith was convicted in 1998 of the 1998 murder of the preacher’s wife, Elizabeth Sennett.

Prosecutors said the inmate on the death row was one of two men who were each paid $1,000 to kill Elizabeth Sennett on behalf of her husband, Charles Sennet Sr., who wanted insurance money. Sennett was found dead at her home in Colbert County on March 18, 1988, and the coroner testified that the 45-year-old had been stabbed eight times in the chest and once on each side of the neck.

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Her husband killed himself when the murder investigation focused on him as a suspect.

John Forrest Parker, the other man convicted of murder, was executed in 2010.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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