The spiritual leader of Kenneth Eugene Smith – who was executed by nitrogen inhalation in Alabama on Thursday – described the historic execution as the “worst” thing he had ever seen, having previously witnessed five other executions.
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Jeff Hood was one of the few witnesses able to witness this execution, which has been denounced for several weeks by the United Nations for the inhalation of nitrogen, which had never been tested before and constituted a form of “torture”.
The 58-year-old prisoner was executed in an execution that lasted 22 minutes after a gas mask was placed over his face.
“When they turned on the nitrogen he started convulsing, he kept jumping on the stretcher and shaking the whole stretcher,” tour guide Jeff Hood told the Chron.
Hood said prison officials were shocked that his death was much slower than they expected.
“I could see the correctional officers, I think they were very surprised that it wasn't going smoothly – one of the state officers in the room was so nervous that her leg was tapping on the floor,” he told media.
The spiritual leader said “a lethal injection is better any day” after seeing Mr. Smith's ordeal compared to other executions he had previously witnessed.
The prisoner's partner was also present during his final moments and “screamed” as her husband “twitched” on the stretcher, the Chron reported.
In his suffering, Kenneth Eugene Smith managed to make a warm gesture to his family, declaring: “Tonight, Alabama takes a step back for humanity… I go with love, peace and friendship.” I go with love, peace and light.”