Today, we’re following up on the scheduled execution of Kenneth Smith. Evan Mealins reported from the scene in Atmore, Alabama for the Montgomery Advertiser. Smith’s execution was delayed by hours of court back-and-forth. Then at 11:20pm, Alabama called off the execution after prison officials failed to properly insert intravenous lines used for lethal injection, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs reports for the New York Times. His death warrant expired at midnight.
Earlier Thursday, Smith’s lawyers convinced an appeals court to halt the execution, originally scheduled for 6 pm, arguing that Alabama’s track record on issues with executions and IV access could subject Smith to an “unnecessarily cruel execution.” The case volleyed between courts, and the Supreme Court ultimately vacated an appeal’s court stay and cleared the way for the execution against the dissent of Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Alabama failed to complete the execution in the second previously unprecedented incident in one year. In September, Alana Miller was set to be executed but officials also failed to set IV lines for him before his death warrant expired. Smith would have been the first person executed due to a death penalty judicial override over a jury’s recommendation of life in prison in Alabama since the practice was abolished in 2017.