Kenneth Eugene Smith

An execution was halted late Thursday and the prisoner sent back to his cell after his Alabama jailers said they ran out of time trying to find a vein. The state now has to seek a death warrant for a new date.

Kenneth Eugene Smith 

Kenneth Smith, 57, had been scheduled to die for his role in the murder for hire of a preacher’s wife in 1988. But last-minute legal appeals meant the state didn’t get the go-ahead until after 10 p.m.

Around 11:20 p.m., the execution was called off “due to the time constraints resulting from the lateness of the court’s proceedings,” the corrections department said in a statement. The department’s commissioner, John Hamm, said prison employees had tried unsuccessfully several times to set an intravenous line for the lethal injection.

It was the second time in as many months that Alabama failed to carry out an execution before the expiration of a death warrant, and it highlights critics’ questions about the state’s ability to adhere to its own death penalty protocol.

At issue in the last-minute appeal was the fact that Smith’s trial jury had voted 11-1 to impose a life sentence and was overruled by a judge who opted for a death sentence. Alabama has since repealed the practice of judicial override in sentencing.

Smith was one of two men hired to kill Elizabeth Sennett, a 45-year-old mother and the wife of minister  Charles Sennett. He was having an affair and had taken an insurance policy out on his wife so he could pay off his debts.  Charles Sennett approached his tenant Billy Gray Williams about having her killed, and Williams paid Parker and Smith $1,000 each to do it.

On March 18, 1988, the woman was fatally stabbed in her family’s home on Coon Dog Cemetery Road in Alabama’s Colbert County.

Charles Sennett killed himself a week later, as the investigation began to focus on him. An anonymous tip led investigators to Smith’s home, where they found a videocassette recorder taken from the Sennetts.

Smith’s defense at trial said he participated in the attack but he did not intend to kill her, according to court documents.

Parker, the other man convicted in the slaying, was executed in 2010. Williams, the middleman, is serving life in prison without possibility of parole.

Alabama in 2017 became the last U.S. state in 2017 to repeal judicial override, which allowed judges to disregard a jury’s decision for either life or death …read more

Source:: The Mercury News


Alabama killer’s execution halted after jailers run out of time

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