Trump’s Killing Spree: The Inside Story of His Race to Execute Every Prisoner He Could

Before 2020, there had been three federal executions in 60 years. Then Trump put 13 people to death in six months IN THE FINAL moments of Brandon Bernard’s life, before he was executed by lethal injection at a federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, on Dec. 10, 2020, President Donald Trump picked up the phone to entertain a final plea for mercy on Bernard’s behalf. The call was not with Bernard’s family or his attorneys. Nor was it with representatives from the Justice Department’s Pardon Attorney office, who had recommended just days earlier that Trump spare Bernard’s life.

Alabama inmate describes failed execution attempt: Unknown injections, repeated attempts to start IV

Kenneth Eugene Smith, the man who survived Alabama’s latest execution attempt, is claiming in a new court filing he was strapped to a gurney for 4 hours, injected with an unknown substance and poked with needles until the state eventually called off the execution just before midnight.

Smith, 57, was set to die by lethal injection on Nov. 17 at William C. Holman Correctional Facility. The prison, located in Atmore, is the only state facility with an execution chamber. He was going to be executed for his role in the 1988 murder-for-hire of Elizabeth Dorlene Sennett, a pastor’s wife from Colbert County who was fatally stabbed and beaten.

Gov. Kay Ivey has since ordered a moratorium on executions pending an internal review of the state’s execution process.

A Friday court filing from Smith’s attorneys detailed his account of what happened the night of the set execution. Around 7:45 p.m., the filing states, Smith was on the phone with his wife while waiting on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit to rule on his request for a stay, when guards entered Smith’s cell and strapped him to a gurney.

Around 8 p.m., the 11th Circuit granted the request and stayed the execution. The filing states that, when Smith’s attorneys told the lawyers from the state that the execution was currently off, lawyers from the ADOC replied, “Noted.”

“But the execution continued on in defiance of the 11th Circuit’s stay, with Mr. Smith remaining strapped to a gurney until nearly midnight,” the filing says. “Mr. Smith was not notified that a federal court had stayed his execution as he lay immobilized for hours by the tight straps all across his body, nor was he allowed to communicate with his counsel as his appeals were being submitted and litigated.”

“They were—and he thought they were—executing him.”

2 hours later, according to the filing, an IV team entered the execution chamber and began “repeatedly jabbing Mr. Smith’s arms and hands with needles, well past the point at which the executioners should have known that it was not reasonably possible to access a vein.” The document details an “inverse crucifixion position” that Smith was tilted in.

Next, the filing says the IV team injected Smith “with an unknown substance that…was some sort of sedative and/or anesthetic.”

Earlier in Smith’s litigation, the Alabama Attorney General’s Office had agreed not to use intramuscular sedation during the lethal injection, saying the practice wasn’t part of the ADOC’s protocol.

“After this injection, a person of unknown medical credentials wearing a face shield started repeatedly stabbing (Smith’s) collarbone area with a large needle in an attempt to begin a central line IV in his subclavian artery,” the filing says. Smith described intense pain in the court filing, adding that the attempts to start a central line for the three-drug lethal injection cocktail “went well past the point that the executioner should have known he would not achieve access.”

The document says Smith’s attorneys saw reports on social media that the execution had been called off around 11:20 p.m., and asked ADOC officials for confirmation.

A federal judge has ruled the state must preserve all evidence from the failed execution attempt.

Source: al.com,  Ivana Hrynkiw, November 28, 2022

"Botched" Alabama execution subjected inmate to "ever-escalating levels of pain and torture," attorneys say

Alabama prison staff strapped an inmate to a death chamber gurney, despite a court order in place at the time blocking the execution from going forward, and later subjected him to numerous needle jabs, including in the neck and collarbone region while an official held his head, attorneys wrote in a court filing.

Attorneys for Kenneth Eugene Smith claimed on Friday the state violated the U.S. Constitution, various court orders and its own lethal injection protocol during the "botched" execution attempt earlier this month. Smith's attorneys are asking a federal judge to forbid the state from making a 2nd attempt to execute him, saying Smith was already "subjected to ever-escalating levels of pain and torture" on the night of the failed execution.

"Defendants' treatment of Mr. Smith does not fall within society's standards for a constitutional execution. The botched execution was terrifying and extremely painful for Mr. Smith," attorneys for Smith wrote in the complaint filed in federal court. The lawsuit accuses the state of violating the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment, seeks monetary damages and asks for an injunction to block Alabama from "making a 2nd attempt to execute Mr. Smith."

The Alabama Department of Corrections on Monday declined to publicly respond to Smith's account of the aborted execution, saying the department "cannot comment on ongoing litigation."

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey last week announced a temporary pause in executions to review of the state's capital punishment system, citing concerns for victims' families that death sentences were delayed.

"For the sake of the victims and their families, we've got to get this right," Ivey said.

Smith was scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection on Nov. 17 for the 1988 murder-for-hire slaying of Elizabeth Dorlene Sennett. Prison officials said they called off Smith's execution for the night after they were unable to establish IV access within the 100-minute window between the court clearing the way for it to begin and a midnight deadline.

Smith's attorneys say the state strapped Smith to the death chamber gurney at about 8 p.m. and left him there even though the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay at 7:59 p.m. Smith was not told of the stay and had no way to communicate with his attorney or family as he lay strapped to the gurney, his attorneys said.

"The execution continued on in defiance of the Eleventh Circuit's stay, with Mr. Smith remaining strapped to a gurney until nearly midnight," attorneys wrote.

The U.S. Supreme Court lifted the stay shortly at 10:20 p.m. and it was around that time that the execution team began trying to establish IV access, according to the court filing.

Smith was jabbed with needles multiple times in his arms, hands, neck and collarbone region "well past the point at which the executioners should have known that it was not reasonably possible to access a vein" his attorneys wrote.

Smith's attorneys wrote that the team tilted Smith in "an inverse crucifixion position" while strapped to the gurney and left him there for several minutes. Attorneys said they also believe the team injected Smith with "some sort of sedative and/or anesthetic"- violating assurances to a federal judge in court proceedings that they do not use intramuscular injections.

Attorneys said the prison team then used a large gauge needle to try to establish a line through a blood vessel beneath the collarbone. When Smith did not comply with a request to turn his head, a deputy warden held "Smith's head in both his hands, torqued it to the side, saying, 'Kenny, this is for your own good.'"

After multiple attempts, the execution team left the chamber and Smith and his attorneys later learned sometime before midnight that the execution had been called off for the night.

It was the state's 2nd such instance of being unable to kill an inmate in the past 2 months and its 3rd since 2018.

At one point, they left him hanging vertically on a gurney before state officials made the decision to call off the execution.

The state completed an execution in July, but only after a three-hour delay caused at least partly by the same problem with starting an IV line.

The Alabama Department of Corrections has disputed that the cancellation of Smith's execution was a reflection of problems. The department blamed the late-running court action, saying "ADOC had a short timeframe to complete its protocol."

16 men have been executed in the U.S. this year.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Alabama has carried out 70 executions since 1976 and there are currently 170 inmates on death row.

Source: CBS News, Staff, November 28, 2022

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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