MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — The Alabama Supreme Court has set an execution date of Nov. 17 for Kenneth Eugene Smith.
The death warrant, issued Friday, will be carried out in the execution chamber of Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore barring further action by a court.
In 1996, Smith was convicted in a murder-for-hire plot that led to the death of Elizabeth Dorlene Sennett in her Colbert County home. Court records show that Sennett’s husband, a reverend who later took his own life, hired a man named Billy Williams to kill his wife. Williams, in turn, hired Smith and another man, John Parker, to stage a burglary and kill Elizabeth. They carried out their plan, killing Elizabeth Sennett, in March 1988.
Williams was convicted of his role in the murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Parker, too, was convicted of Sennett’s murder and was executed in 2010.
As for Smith, a jury recommended by a vote of 11 to 1 that he should receive a sentence of life without parole for his role in Sennett’s death, but a judge overrode that verdict and sentenced him to death.
“If Smith’s trial had occurred today, he would not be eligible for execution,” a federal appeals court wrote of Smith’s case in 2021.
Alabama abandoned an attempt to execute another inmate, Alan Miller, earlier this month after prison staff had difficulty accessing Miller’s veins.
The state’s last carried out an execution in July when it lethally injected Joe Nathan James, Jr. for the 1994 murder of Faith Hall. Hall’s family had opposed James’ execution.
An independent autopsy of James conducted after his execution showed that the state had gone to extreme lengths to access James’ veins, including a rudimentary, outdated procedure known as a “cutdown,” which involved slicing an inmate’s skin to more easily access veins.