The State Supreme Court on Wednesday authorized the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) to execute Kenneth Eugene Smith.

The order permits the Department to carry out Smith’s death sentence within a timeframe set by Gov. Kay Ivey. The time frame can’t begin less than 30 days from Wednesday, according to the order.

Smith was one of two men who were each paid $1,000 to kill Elizabeth Sennett on behalf of her husband, Rev. Charles Sennett, who was in debt and wanted to collect on insurance.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said in a statement to 1819 News on Wednesday, “Elizabeth Sennett’s family has waited an unconscionable 35 years to see justice served.” 

"Today, the Ala. Sup Court cleared the way for Kenneth Smith to be executed by nitrogen hypoxia for the 1988 murder-for-hire of Elizabeth. Though the wait has been far too long, I am grateful that our talented capital litigators have nearly gotten this case to the finish line,” Marshall said.

Sennett was found dead on March 18, 1988, in the couple’s home on Coon Dog Cemetery Road in Colbert County. The coroner testified that the victim had been stabbed eight times in the chest and once on each side of the neck. According to court records, Charles Sennett took his own life a week later when the murder investigation started to focus on him as a suspect.

Smith was initially convicted in 1989, and a jury voted 10-2 to recommend a death sentence, which a judge imposed. His conviction was overturned on appeal in 1992. He was retried and convicted again in 1996.

Smith has claimed it was the other man who stabbed Sennett and not him. John Forrest Parker, the other man convicted of the murder, was executed in 2010.

On Nov. 17, 2022,  The ADOC called off the scheduled execution of Smith after officials failed to establish an intravenous line to administer the lethal chemicals in the state's protocol, the second failed execution of 2022. Smith challenged his original execution attempt, saying he intended to select nitrogen hypoxia as his preferred method; a method the state was not ready to carry out at that time.

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