Smith was declared dead by a physician at 11:05 p.m., said Bob Horton, prisons spokesman.
During 13 minutes of the execution, from about 10:34 to 10:47, Smith appeared to be struggling for breath and heaved and coughed and clenched his left fist after apparently being administered the first drug in the three-drug combination. At times his left eye also appeared to be slightly open.
A Department of Corrections captain performed two consciousness checks before they proceeded with administering the next two drugs to stop his breathing and heart.
Smith was convicted of capital murder in the Nov. 8, 1994, fatal shooting of Huntsville store clerk Casey Wilson. A jury voted 7-5 to recommend a sentence of life imprisonment, but a judge overrode that recommendation and sentenced Smith to death.
Wilson was pistol-whipped and then shot in the head during the robbery, court documents show. Surveillance video showed Smith entering the store and recovering spent shell casings from the bathroom where Wilson was shot, according to the record.
In overriding the jury’s recommendation at the 1995 trial, a judge likened the slaying to an execution, saying Wilson had already been pistol-whipped into submission and Smith ignored his pleas for mercy. Wilson had a newborn infant at the time of his death.
“The trial court described Smith’s acts as ‘an execution style slaying.’ Tonight, justice was finally served,” Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said in a statement after the execution.
Here is some more whining…
Two months later, the judge overrode their decision and gave him death. He cited the “particularly heinous” nature of the crime, pointing to evidence that indicated Smith killed Wilson “execution style.”
Alabama is the last state in the country that allows a judge to override a jury’s recommended sentence.
In January, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Hurst v. Florida that Florida’s sentencing scheme, which also allowed judicial override, was unconstitutional.
Following Hurst, The Delaware Supreme Court found that its sentencing scheme that also let judges override juries was also unconstitutional.
Smith’s attorneys petitioned SCOTUS to stay the execution in light of Hurst. Despite issuing two temporary stays in the hours leading up to Smith’s execution, the high court ultimately denied his appeal in a 4-4 split.
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