Alabama Death Row Inmate Coughed for Over 10 Minutes During Execution

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In 1994, Ronald Bert Smith Jr. was convicted of murdering a convenience store clerk in Alabama while trying to rob the store. For the crime, he was sentenced to death by lethal injection and was put on death row in 1995. He had remained on death row for the past 21 years until Thursday night when he was finally put to death. Smith tried to request a stay of execution but the United States Supreme Court denied his request.

The execution by lethal injection was performed at the Holman Correctional Facility, which is located in Atmore, Alabama. Numerous reporters from the Chicago Tribune, AL.com, and the Associated Press were there to witness the execution. After it was performed, they described Smith’s death to their readers.

According to AL.com, the lethal injection took 13 minutes. It was made up of a three-drug combination. When the first drug was given to Smith, he reportedly started to cough and breath heavily. His left eye was partially open as well. Two consciousness checks were given to him by the captain of the Department of Corrections. The Associated Press reported that he moved his arm on the first test and the Tribute reported that he moved his arm on both tests.

In an interview with the Tribune, the state prison commissioner claimed that Smith did not react to the tests. This allowed the second drug to be administered which was meant to stop his heart. Then finally, the third drug was given to him which was the one that killed him. The reporters apparently weren’t convinced that he didn’t react to the consciousness tests because they saw with their own eyes that he did.

Midazolam was the first drug given to Smith. This is a sedative that is supposed to knock the person out so that they don’t suffer when they get the final two drugs. But there have been multiple executions in the past which show that this sedative isn’t effective in knocking the person out. Many have argued that it is inhumane to use it because the prisoners are still conscious when they are on it. Unfortunately, the results of this recent execution won’t likely change anything.

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