Widow of Kenny Smith Speaks Out Against Nitrogen Hypoxia

Widow of Kenny Smith Speaks Out Against Nitrogen Hypoxia March 13, 2024



Screenshot of Jeff Hood & Deanna Smith after the execution of Kenny Smith

*Kenny Smith was the first person in the world executed by nitrogen hypoxia.


My name is Deanna Smith and I am writing in regards to the discussion of adding nitrogen hypoxia to the list of approved methods of execution. I am one of the first-hand witnesses who attended Alabama’s execution of Kenny Smith in January. Having witnessed this event, I am compelled to ask you to reconsider.


What I saw not what was presented to us in court proceedings. We were told Kenny would be unconscious within seconds and dead within minutes. This was very much not the case. I watched as his body jerked and convulsed against the straps of the gurney. I watched as his eyes rolled back and still remember the look of the whites of his eyes. When I would think it was almost done, his body would try to gasp for any air it could possibly get. I watched his body  be weaponized against him. I was watching the clock, begging God for it to end, but it just wouldn’t stop. It was the most horrible thing I have ever seen in my life and it haunts me.


People who have been to other executions have never seen anything like it before and have said how violent it was. Even the victims family said it was violent and they never want to see anything like it again. This also didn’t just impact us first hand “witnesses”, this must also impact every member of the execution team as we ask them to participate in taking someone’s life in such a violent manner.


I know that there are issues of getting the proper drugs for lethal injection and that it’s getting harder to get trained individuals willing to carry executions. However, I implore you to realize that nitrogen executions are not the way to  get around this issue. They leave lasting impressions of horror and trauma for all people involved, not just the incarcerated individuals, and not just for their family, but for the community as a whole.


Thank you for your time,

Deanna Smith

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