Alabama Wants More Nitrogen Gas Execution Despite Concerns

The Alabama Attorney General’s Office confirmed in a court filing last week that it planned to carry out another execution of a death row inmate using nitrogen gas.

Alabama became the first state to use the controversial method in January when it executed Kenneth Eugene Smith, who was convicted in the 1988 murder-for-hire of Elizabeth Sennett.

In a June 10 request, the Attorney General’s office asked the Alabama Supreme Court to approve the date of execution for Carey Dale Grayson, who was convicted of murdering Vickie Deblieux in 1994.

If his execution date is approved, Grayson would become the third death row inmate to die through the method known as “nitrogen hypoxia.”

Early last month, the state authorized the execution of Alan Eugene Miller, who killed three during a workplace shooting in 1999. Miller survived a lethal injection attempt in 2022 and is expected to be put to death on September 26 using nitrogen gas.

While lethal injection continues to be Alabama’s primary method of execution, inmates are also given the choice of the electric chair or nitrogen gas.

Since Smith’s execution on January 25, Alabama began seeking execution dates for dozens of death row inmates who have requested nitrogen hypoxia as their preferred method of execution.

Alabama is one of four states, along with Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma, that approved the controversial execution method that proponents say is painless.

With the nitrogen hypoxia method, inmates inhale 100 percent nitrogen gas. The lack of oxygen causes hypoxia which leads to death by asphyxiation.

Following Smith’s execution, which took 22 minutes and caused him to spasm for the final two, opponents of the method argued that his death was not as quick and painless as the state previously claimed it would be.

In its request to the Alabama Supreme Court, the Attorney General’s office noted that Carey Dale Grayson requested nitrogen gas in 2018 and said that his execution could be carried out by the method “he voluntarily elected” to use.