Grisly new Death Row execution method would see inmates starved of oxygen

A US state is looking to introduce a brutal new execution method using nitrogen gas.

Alabama is set to use the method of making death row inmates breathe pure nitrogen for the first time.

Although approved in three states, the method is yet to be tried in any US state.

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On Friday (August 25), the Supreme Court was asked by the office of Alabama Attorney-General Steve Marshall for permission for a date to be set for the killing of Kenneth Eugene Smith, a 58-year-old inmate.

He was one of two arrested and sentenced for the 1988 murder-for-hire killing of the wife of a preacher.

In a statement, Marshall said: “It is a travesty that Kenneth Smith has been able to avoid his death sentence for nearly 35 years after being convicted of the heinous murder-for-hire slaying of an innocent woman, Elizabeth Sennett.”

The brain would be deprived of oxygen by the introduction of Nitrogen hypoxia, authorised by Alabama in 2018, which will then kill the person made to breathe it.

The method is also authorised in Oklahoma and Mississippi and was brought in during a shortage of the drugs used for lethal injections.

Nitrogen is harmless when breathed in conjunction with oxygen, which is roughly 78% of the air we breathe.

Debate remains around the use of the method, with those in favour of it claiming it would be painless.

Those on the other side have argued that the people it will be used on are being experimented on.

Legal battles are expected to be sparked over the constitutionality of the move.

Anti-death penalty group The Equal Justice Initiative said Alabama had a history of, “failed and flawed executions and execution attempts” and “experimenting with a never before used method is a terrible idea".

The group’s senior attorney Angie Setzer said: “No state in the country has executed a person using nitrogen hypoxia and Alabama is in no position to experiment with a completely unproven and unused method for executing someone”.

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