The Dark Details Of Convicted Murderer’s Execution Have Been Revealed

Ken Piorkowski

An inmate in Alabama coughed and moved throughout his execution.

Ronald Bert Smith, Jr., who was sentenced to death on capital murder charges in 1994, was coughing and moving for 13 of the 34 minutes it took to administer the fatal injection the eventually killed him.

Smith Jr., 45, was pronounced dead at 11:05 p.m., about 30 minutes after the procedure began at the state prison in southwest Alabama.

The worrisome details of the execution come amid debate over both the death penalty in America and its administration.

Smith had previously brought a lawsuit against the state of Alabama claiming that the state’s three-drug execution process constituted cruel and unusual punishment. It was dismissed in November.

The leethal injection used to executed prisoners in America involves three different drugs. The first is a sedative called midazolam, which in effect, should make the execution painless.

Once the midazolam is judged to have taken affect, drugs that paralyze the body and stop the heart are administered.

In the New York Times, Zachary Fine documented cases of botched executions associated with lethal injection:

In July, the execution of Joseph Wood III in Arizona spanned one hour and 57 minutes. During the process, according to reports, he ‘gasped’ more than 600 times.

Just three months before in Oklahoma, Clayton D. Lockett reportedly writhed and screamed during his 43-minute-long execution.

In January 2014, there were Dennis McGuire in Ohio and Michael Wilson in Oklahoma. Before falling unconscious, Wilson’s last words were, ‘I feel my whole body burning.’


In Smith’s case, the condemned underwent two consciousness tests as executioners waited for the sedative to work.

These see the corrections officer calling out Smith’s name, brushing his eyebrows back, and pinching him under his left arm.

Alabama Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn promises an autopsy report will be performed on Smith to see if there were any irregularities in his state-administered death by execution.