Alabama failed to execute its third inmate in 4 years after difficulty inserting an IV

Alabama failed to execute its third inmate in 4 years after difficulty inserting an IV
Alabama delated the execution of Kenneth Smith on Thursday.Getty Images
  • The state of Alabama called off the execution of Kenneth Smith on Thursday.
  • The execution was postponed because prison staff could not connect an IV to Smith.

The state of Alabama on Thursday called off the execution of Kenneth Eugene Smith after prison staff had trouble connecting an IV to his body, according to The Associated Press.

Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner John Hamm said that prison officials tried for an hour to get the two required IV lines connected to Smith's body and were successful in connecting one but could not find a suitable vein for the other after trying several different spots on Smith's body.

This is the third time since 2018 and the second since September that the state has had to call off an execution, according to The Associated Press.

Smith was convicted in the late 1980s of killing Elizabeth Sennett, a preacher's wife, according to The AP. Prosecutors said that Smith and another man, John Forrest Parker, were each paid $1,000 for the killing.

Parker was executed in 2010, and Smith's execution was slated to go forward after he lost his final appeal, which focused on the state's previous problems with intravenous lines in its last two lethal injections, according to the AP.


The state must now ask the court for a new execution date.

Smith's execution is the second this year to be delayed in the state following the postponement of Alan Miller's execution in May following difficulty connecting an IV to his veins. Miller, who was convicted of killing Terry Jarvis, Lee Holdbrooks, and Scott Yancy in 1999, said in a court filing that prison staff poked him with needles for over an hour and left him hanging vertically on a gurney, the AP reported.

In 2018, the state postponed the execution of Doyle Lee Hamm after difficulty connecting IV lines.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey blamed the delay of Smith's execution on his last-minute appeals, despite the prison calling his execution off because of problems with the prison's IV lines. Hamm was convicted and sentenced to death in 1987 for shooting and killing Patrick Cunningham, a motel clerk in Cullman, Alabama, during a robbery.

"Kenneth Eugene Smith chose $1,000 over the life of Elizabeth Dorlene Sennett, and he was guilty, no question about it. Some three decades ago, a promise was made to Elizabeth's family that justice would be served through a lawfully imposed death sentence," Ivey said in a statement. "Although that justice could not be carried out tonight because of last-minute legal attempts to delay or cancel the execution, attempting it was the right thing to do."


Ivey's office did not immediately return Insider's request for comment on Wednesday.