The 58-year-old murderer was executed at 8.25pm CST (02.25 am GMT) at the Holman Correctional Facility in Alabama on January 25, 2024.
He was the first prisoner to be executed using a controversial new capital punishment method.
And his final, chilling statement to humanity has now gone viral.
Smith was convicted of capital murder over Elizabeth Sennett’s death in 1988.
He was a part of a two-person murder-for-hire team, employed by Sennett’s husband to kill the 45-year-old.
Sennett’s husband was struggling with debt and wanted to use his wife’s life insurance money to get out, as per Courthouse News.
Smith’s co-conspirator John Forrest Parker, was executed by lethal injection in 2010, as per ClarkProsecutor.org.
However, Smith was not killed by legal injection, but a brand new method only recently approved by a federal judge in the state.
The logistical issues of sourcing lethal injections have led several states to consider looking elsewhere for their execution methods.
The new method, with which Smith became the first ever prisoner to be executed, is called nitrogen hypoxia.
It’s currently only approved in three states; Alabama, Oklahoma and Mississippi, and had never been used until this week.
Nitrogen hypoxia as a means of execution reportedly aims to deal with shortages of the drugs needed for lethal injections.
The method uses nitrogen gas to deprive the body of oxygen, leading the prisoner to pass out and eventually die.
But the method has been the source of a lot of controversy.
The United Nations has called it a possible ‘cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment’, as per The Independent.
While the American Veterinary Medical Association described euthanasia by nitrogen hypoxia for most mammals as ‘unacceptable’, claiming that it can be ‘distressing for some species’.
Nonetheless, US District Judge R. Austin Huffaker told The Washington Post: “On this record, Smith has not shown, and the court cannot conclude, the protocol inflicts both cruel and unusual punishment rendering it constitutionally infirm under the prevailing legal framework.”
Smith had previously survived a botched execution attempt by lethal injection in 2022, as per Sky News.
In the lead-up to his execution, he spoke out about his fears of something similar happening again, writing (per the Mirror): “I am worried that we have told Alabama that these risks could happen – will happen – just like we warned them last year. And they will do nothing to prevent these dangers from happening.”
In spite of claims that nitrogen hypoxia would be totally humane, eyewitness reports detail a disturbing execution process.
Marty Roney of the Montgomery Advertiser reports: “Smith writhed and convulsed on the gurney. He took deep breaths, his body shaking violently with his eyes rolling in the back of his head.
“Smith clenched his fists, his legs shook… He seemed to be gasping for air. The gurney shook several times.”
And following Smith’s execution, his chilling final words have left the internet feeling creeped out.
The Mirror reports that Smith made ‘I love you’ signs to his family through the clear panel at his execution.
He then said: “Tonight, Alabama caused humanity to take a step backward. I am leaving with love, peace and light – thank you for supporting me. I love all of you.”