Alabama death row inmate asks court to intervene ahead of upcoming execution

Death row inmate asks court to intervene ahead of execution
Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 10:47 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) -Alabama is set to execute a north Alabama man this week for a murder for hire plot in the late 1980′s. Kenneth Eugene Smith is now fighting to stop the execution. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear the case Wednesday afternoon.

This last-ditch effort comes days after the Alabama Supreme Court decided to not postpone Smith’s execution which is set for Thursday at Holman prison. Smith’s attorneys asking the courts on Monday to stay his execution.

In 1996, a judge sentenced Smith to die despite a jury’s 11-1 recommendation of life in prison through judicial override. The state abolished that override in 2017 but the change was not retroactive and didn’t impact death row inmates like Smith. His attorneys are asking the court to review whether the death sentence made over the jury’s wishes is constitutional.

We asked WBRC legal expert Roger Appell what Smith’s attorneys are trying to prove.

“They are arguing its unconstitutional saying its cruel and unusual punishment under the 8th Amendment to the Constitution to execute somebody who’s had a recommendation from a jury that they be given life without parole and in fact every other state in the union did not allow that to happen,” Appell said.

Smith was first convicted in 1989 in the death of Elizabeth Sennett. He received the death sentence but that was overturned on appeal in 1992. He was retried and convicted again, but as mentioned, a judge overrode the jury’s recommendation and sentenced Smith to death.

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