The United States Supreme Court has overturned a federal appeals court’s stay of execution for Alabama death row inmate Kenneth Smith, allowing the state to execute Smith before his death warrant expires at midnight Thursday.
The 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals granted a last-minute stay of execution to an Alabama convict on Thursday, just hours before his death warrant was supposed to expire at midnight. Kenneth Smith was to be executed at 6 p.m.
CT for his role in the 1988 murder of Elizabeth Sennett. A jury voted 11-1 for life in prison, but the trial judge overruled them and imposed the death penalty, which the state has subsequently overturned. The US Supreme Court has heard an appeal from the state of Alabama on the execution stay ruling.
Smith’s attorneys argued to the Supreme Court that he should not be executed. Smith would not be qualified for execution if he were tried today and his jury reached the same verdict, according to his counsel, because no jurisdiction now allows the practice of judicial override.
They argue that executing Smith despite the jury’s decision would be excessive and cruel punishment, breaching his constitutional protection under the Eighth Amendment.