World’s First Nitrogen Gas Execution Carried Out In US State, Alabama

A state in the United States, Alabama has executed a man with nitrogen gas, the first time the method has been used.

Alabama executed the convicted murderer with nitrogen gas Thursday, putting him to death with a first-of-its-kind method that once again placed the U.S. at the forefront of the debate over capital punishment.

The state said the method would be humane, but critics called it cruel and experimental.

Officials said Kenneth Eugene Smith, 58, was pronounced dead at 8:25 p.m. at an Alabama prison after breathing pure nitrogen gas through a face mask to cause oxygen deprivation.

It marked the first time that a new execution method has been used in the United States since lethal injection, now the most commonly used method, was introduced in 1982.

The execution took about 22 minutes, and Smith appeared to remain conscious for several minutes. For at least two minutes, he appeared to shake and writhe on the gurney, sometimes pulling against the restraints.

That was followed by several minutes of heavy breathing until breathing was no longer perceptible.

In a final statement, Smith said: “Tonight Alabama causes humanity to take a step backwards. … I’m leaving with love, peace and light.”

He made the “I love you sign” with his hands toward family members who were witnesses. “Thank you for supporting me. Love, love all of you,” Smith said.

Culled from AFP