An Alabama convict’s death warrant expired, instead of him, after executioners could not find two usable veins for the lethal injection.
Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner John Hamm said prison staff were unable to get the two required intravenous lines connected to convicted murderer Kenneth Smith. The commissioner said in a press conference that staff tried for one hour to find a second vein in the 57-year-old’s body.
Smith has served 33 years in prison after he was convicted for the 1988 murder of Elizabeth Dorlene Sennett. A jury found that the victim’s husband paid Smith to kill her. Jurors voted 11 to 1 against execution, sentencing him to life in prison with no opportunity for parole, according to a New York Times report. The judge overruled the jury and ordered Smith to be executed.
Prison staff were notified after 10 p.m. they were cleared legally to proceed with Smith’s execution. Commissioner Hamm said they started their protocol but around 11:21 p.m. called off the execution after determining it could not be completed before midnight.
Execution staff were able to insert one line, Hamm said, but were not successful with the second despite trying several locations on his body. Officials then tried inserting a catheter into a large vein to create what is termed a “central line” before running out of time.
“We were not able to have time to complete that, so we called off the execution,” Hamm said.
Alabama must return to court for a new execution date because Smith’s death warrant expired at midnight, according to a Fox News report.
The southern state has 166 prisoners on death row as of Friday, with an average age of 55. Just over half of death row prisoners are white; with 82 men and 4 females, according to the state’s Department of Corrections.