First death row inmate executed by nitrogen gas suffered ‘horrific’ death

January 26, 2024

Kenneth Eugene Smith was executed by Nitrogen gas (Picture: EPA / REX)A witness to the first ever US prisoner to be executed by ‘painless’ nitrogen gas says Kenneth Eugene Smith writhed in agony as he suffered a ‘horrific’ death. The killer-for-hire, 58, was fitted with a gas mask which was pumped full of 100% nitrogen gas at the execution chamber at the William C. Holman prison in Atmore, Alabama. But instead Smith took 22 minutes to die, convulsing in his chair and tugging against his restraints for several minutes before losing consciousness. Smith was sentenced to death in 1996 for a murder-for-hire killing of a preacher’s wife in 1988, which he was paid just $1000 to commit. His words contradict those of the Alabama State Department, who had praised the new method as an ‘effective and humane method of execution.’The untested method had previously been labelled as ‘torture’ by the UN.