The family of Elizabeth Sennett, the woman murdered by Kenneth Eugene Smith, said it was a ‘bittersweet day’ after the killer had been executed with nitrogen gas.
Smith, 58, had a gas mask placed over his face before a stream of 100 percent nitrogen gas suffocated him inside the execution chamber at the William C. Holman prison in Atmore, Alabama, on Wednesday night.
He was officially pronounced dead at 8:25pm local time, 22 minutes after the nitrogen gas was first administered. At 8:07pm, a corrections officer leaned over Smith and examined him, before stepping back against the wall to let the execution continue.
After the execution, Mike Sennett, who is one of Elizabeth’s sons said the family was glad that the day was over and that ‘it was weight off his shoulders’.
He also said this was the day his mother ‘got her justice’ and that the murderer’s ‘debt was paid’ tonight.
Kenneth Eugene Smith was sentenced to death in 1996 after admitting the murder-for-hire killing of a pastor’s wife who was beaten and stabbed in 1988. On Thursday evening, he became the first person in US history to be executed with nitrogen gas
After the execution, Mike Sennett, who is one of Elizabeth’s sons said the family was glad that the day was over and that ‘it was weight off his shoulders’
He also said this was the day his mother ‘got her justice’ and that the murderer’s ‘debt was paid’ tonight
Mike said during the press conference that the family had forgiven Smith for his crimes
At the press conference, Mike said: ‘Nothing happened here today that’s going to bring Mom back.
‘It’s kind of a bittersweet day. We’re not going to be jumping around, around, hooting and hollering “hooray” and all that. That’s not us. But we’re glad this day is over.
‘All three of the people involved in this case years ago, we have forgiven. Not today but we have in the past.
‘Some people may not believe that, you know, how do you forgive somebody. Well, in an effort to be more Christ-like, try to live his teachings and stuff, it is my duty and it is a weight off my shoulders.
‘I forgive him, I forgive him what he done, I don’t like what he done but they are forgiven from us.
‘The Bible says evil deeds have consequences — and Kenneth Smith made some bad decisions 35 years ago — and his debt was paid tonight.
‘Some of you may have heard us talk about over and over about 35 years, 35 years. 35 years – Kenneth Smith, Parker, Williams – Williams not so much because he died in the system, but Parker and Smith have been incarcerated almost twice as long as I knew my mom.’
‘Elizabeth Dorlene Thorne Sennett got her justice tonight.’
He also thanked the people for their support and comments during his statement.
‘The Bible says evil deeds have consequences — and Kenneth Smith made some bad decisions 35 years ago — and his debt was paid tonight,’ he said
In another interview, Chuck Sennett said that he just wants the saga involving his mother’s murder to be over
Chuck said that his mother was stabbed around a dozen times in the neck and head
When asked what he would say to his mother if he could say one more thing to her, Chuck said he would tell her that he loved and missed her
In his final words, delivered through the gas mask on his face, Smith made a heart sign with his hands to his family and said: ‘Tonight Alabama causes humanity to take a step backwards… I’m leaving with love, peace and light’
In an earlier interview with 1819 News this week, Elizabeth’s other son, Charles ‘Chuck’ Sennett said: ‘We just want this to be over with and I am sure his family does, too. It’s been 35 years.
‘He’s [Smith] actually probably laughing, or has been because he said he would get out of that first one, and he did. So, this one better go through, or we are going to have some serious problems,’ he continued.
Chuck further said that his mother was stabbed around a dozen times in the neck and head.
‘She had scars all over her upper body. Me and my brother went out there to the farm and had to have the carpet replaced, we cleaned the walls, the fireplace, everything. It was just bad. It was bad. And so, she apparently had put up a good fight. It was terrible. It was terrible,’ he said.
He went on to rail against the justice system in Alabama which as afforded their mother’s killer so many appeals.
‘Alabama’s judicial system sucks. They have the worst one in the union, I think. I don’t know how somebody could have so many appeals, especially after admitting what they’ve done. It’s pitiful. This should’ve been done 30 years ago.’
‘I think about her every day. There hasn’t been a day that’s gone by that I haven’t thought of her or Dad. I have her picture in my mind, what she looked like and stuff. But then I also have a picture there of her laying in the casket,’ he continued.
The convicted killer, 58, was pronounced dead at 8:25pm in the execution chamber at the William C. Holman facility in Atmore, Alabama
When asked what he would say to his mother if he could say one more thing to her.
‘I would tell her I love you and I miss her.’
Smith had been sentenced to death in 1996 for the murder-for-hire slaying of a Elizabeth in 1988, where he was paid just $1,000 for the hit by her husband, Charles Sr.
His pastor John Ewell told DailyMail.com before his execution that the killer was ‘really struggling’ with the reality of his imminent death, and officials said he barely touched his final meal of a T-bone steak, hashbrowns, eggs and A1 Sauce from Waffle House.
In his final words, delivered through the gas mask on his face, Smith made a heart sign with his hands to his family and said: ‘Tonight Alabama causes humanity to take a step backwards… I’m leaving with love, peace and light.’
The historic execution divided opinions, including among Supreme Court justices who voted 6-3 to allow the procedure to go ahead, with the untested method previously branded ‘torture’ by the UN.
Smith’s execution marked the first time a new method had been used on America’s death row since lethal injections were first introduced 42 years ago.
One of the primary reasons Alabama has turned to nitrogen gas for Smith’s execution has been the widespread struggles American prisons have had in obtaining lethal injection drugs in recent years.