Alabama in­mate coughs, heaves, dur­ing ex­e­cu­tion by in­jec­tion

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

ATMORE, Alabama:

Thir­teen min­utes into his ex­e­cu­tion by in­jec­tion, an Alabama in­mate heaved and coughed and ap­peared to move dur­ing tests meant to de­ter­mine con­scious­ness. Ron­ald Bert Smith Jr, 45, was fi­nally pro­nounced dead at 11:05 pm Thurs­day night - about 30 min­utes af­ter the pro­ce­dure be­gan at the state prison in south­west Alabama.

Alabama uses the seda­tive mi­da­zo­lam as the first drug in a three-drug lethal in­jec­tion com­bi­na­tion. Smith and other in­mates ar­gued in a court case that the drug was an un­re­li­able seda­tive and could cause them to feel pain, cit­ing its use in prob­lem­atic ex­e­cu­tions. The US Supreme Court has up­held the use of the drug.

Smith was con­victed of capital mur­der in the Nov 8, 1994, fa­tal shooting of Huntsville store clerk Casey Wil­son. A jury voted 7-5 to rec­om­mend a sen­tence of life im­pris­on­ment, but a judge over­rode that rec­om­men­da­tion and sen­tenced Smith to death. At the be­gin­ning of his ex­e­cu­tion, Smith heaved and coughed re­peat­edly, clench­ing his fists and rais­ing his head. A prison guard per­formed two con­scious­ness checks be­fore the fi­nal two lethal drugs were ad­min­is­tered. In a con­scious­ness test, a prison of­fi­cer says the in­mate’s name, brushes his eye­lashes and then pinches his left arm. Dur­ing the first one, Smith moved his arm. He slightly raised his right arm again af­ter the sec­ond con­scious­ness test.

The mean­ing of those move­ments will likely be de­bated. One of Smith’s at­tor­neys whispered to an­other at­tor­ney, “He’s re­act­ing,” and pointed out the in­mate’s re­peated move­ments. —AP

Ron­ald Bert Smith

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