Tue. Dec 6th, 2022

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has called for a pause in the state’s executions and ordered a “top to bottom” overhaul of the death penalty system after a string of botched lethal injections. Alabama has been in the national spotlight in recent months because its executioners repeatedly failed to connect intravenous lines to the veins of death row inmates.

The move comes after the unfinished execution of Kenneth Eugene Smith on Thursday, the second botched execution in Alabama in just two months and the third since 2018. The state was able to execute an inmate in July, but only after a three-hour delay caused in part by technicians’ inability to establish IV line.

Read more:

Colorado Springs LGBTQ2 bar shooting: Patrons called ‘heroes’ for stopping shooter and saving lives

Ivey’s office issued a statement asking Attorney General Steve Marshall to withdraw motions seeking execution dates for Alan Eugene Miller and James Edward Barber, two death row inmates currently awaiting execution. Ivey also asked the Department of Corrections to conduct a full review of the state’s enforcement process.

The story continues below the ad

The Republican governor also requested that Marshall not seek additional execution dates for any other death row inmates until the review is complete.

Read more:

Reality stars Todd and Julie Chrisley were convicted of $30 million in bank fraud and tax evasion

Ivey denied that prison officials or law enforcement are to blame for problems within Alabama’s death penalty system, saying “there are legal tactics and criminals hijacking the system at play here.”

“For the sake of the victims and their families, we have to get this right,” she said.

Marshall has not confirmed whether he will grant Ivey’s request. The attorney general “read the governor’s and commissioner’s comments with interest” and “will have more to say at a later date,” spokesman Mike Lewis said.

The story continues below the ad

Recent failed executions

Alabama’s execution team tried to execute convicted murderer Smith after a late-night court battle on Thursday, but ultimately failed to set up two intravenous injections.

On Thursday night, the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals granted a last-minute stay of execution for Smith after his lawyers raised concerns about problems with intravenous lines in the last two planned lethal injections in Alabama. Around 10:20 PM that night, the US Supreme Court overturned the stay and cleared the way for Alabama to execute Smith.

Smith was convicted as one of two men who paid $1,000 each to kill Elizabeth Sennett, the preacher’s wife, in 1988. Sennett’s husband was deeply in debt and paid people to kill his wife to collect on the insurance policy. Sennett’s husband killed himself when he became a suspect, and a second man who was paid to kill Sennett was executed in 2010.

Read more:

4 American states voted to ban slavery in all forms. Louisiana votes to keep him

Smith’s death sentence expired at midnight on Thursday, giving executioners less than two hours to carry out the lethal injection. The executioners were able to set up one IV line, according to Department of Corrections Commissioner John Hamm, but after more than an hour and trying several locations on Smith’s body, they were unable to connect a second line. The execution was cancelled.

The story continues below the ad

Two months before Smith’s incomplete execution, Alabama was forced to abandon the execution of Miller, the death row inmate named in Ivey’s petition.

Miller’s execution also required last-minute Supreme Court approval after a legal battle over whether the state lost his records seeking a different method of execution. Miller requested death by nitrous hypoxia because he doesn’t like needles and doctors often have trouble finding his veins.

Miller was sentenced to death after being convicted of a 1999 workplace rampage in which he killed three people.

Read more:

Michael J. Fox brings laughs — and tears — as he accepts the high honor

Although execution by lethal injection was approved by the Supreme Court, Alabama executioners could not access his veins. Miller said in a court filing that prison staff jabbed him with needles for more than an hour, at one point leaving him hanging vertically on a gurney before calling it quits. Prison officials claimed the delays were the result of the state carefully following procedures.

In July, Alabama was able to successfully execute Joe Nathan James Jr. by lethal injection, but executioners took about three hours to set up IV lines, prompting the anti-death penalty group Reprieve US Forensic Justice Initiative to claim the execution was a botch.

James was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1994 murder of Faith Hall, with whom he briefly dated and then became obsessed.

The story continues below the ad

Read more:

Top Iranian actors arrested for removing headscarves amid celebrity attacks

In 2018, Alabama had to cancel the execution of Doyle Hamm due to problems connecting IV lines. Hamm had damaged veins from lymphoma, hepatitis and past drug use, his attorney said. Hamm later died in prison of natural causes.

Hamm was convicted of killing Patrick Cunningham, who was shot in the head while working the night shift at a Cullman motel. Police said $410 was taken during the robbery.

— With files from the Associated Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.