Kenneth Eugene Smith was convicted in 1988 for the murder of Elizabeth Dorlene Sennett. The jury’s 11-1 verdict was clear: life without chance of release. The judge found that not enough – and overruled the vote. Instead he ordered the death penalty. Since 2017, it has been generally forbidden in the USA for judges to change jury verdicts in capital crimes.

The death penalty was scheduled to be carried out on November 17th last year. First, a court temporarily stopped the execution by lethal injection. Then it was not possible to create the two entrances necessary to administer the lethal medication and the execution had to be aborted. Such incidents are no longer uncommon. Executions have often had to be stopped – or death row inmates suffered in agony for minutes before dying.

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