Judge grants motion for preservation of evidence after Kenneth Smith’s execution was called off for inability to access adequate veins


An Alabama judge on Friday granted an emergency motion to secure evidence filed by attorneys for death row inmate Kenneth Smith after his execution was called off Thursday night.

In their motion, Smith’s attorneys asked the court to secure evidence of Smith’s execution, which was called off around 11:20 p.m. local time Thursday. His attorneys allege Smith sustained multiple injuries when staffers at the Alabama Department of Corrections “attempted for approximately an hour to gain the necessary venous access for the execution” and “made multiple attempts to access veins at multiple locations.”

In a press release Thursday night, the Correctional Authority said it could not carry out Smith’s execution due to “time constraints resulting from the delay in the trial.”

“The execution was called off around 11:20 p.m. after it was determined that the protocol could not be carried out before the death sentence expired.”

During a news conference Thursday night, Alabama Department of Justice Commissioner John Hamm said they had begun the execution protocol and decided not to complete it before the death sentence expired, after only gaining access to one of Smith’s veins.

Hamm said they would not have time to access the central line as well as the second vein access as protocol dictates.

Hamm added that they tried to gain access to Smith’s central line for an hour before calling off the execution.

In Friday’s court filing, Smith’s attorneys requested that documentation of his injuries and notes, recordings, photos, videos, emails and texts between Hamm, the warden and all correctional officials involved in the execution, and any medical supplies used be retained.

“Mr. Smith undoubtedly has injuries from the attempted execution – and certainly physical evidence and testimonies that must be preserved – which can and should be photographed and/or filmed. As understood by plaintiff’s counsel, Mr. Smith was about four last night Strapped to a stretcher for hours,” the motion said.

U.S. District Judge Austin Huffaker, Jr. granted the request, which allowed Smith’s attorneys to visit him on Saturday and Sunday with a cellphone to take photos and video of injuries Smith may have had since Thursday.

Huffaker also ordered the Corrections Department to “make immediate efforts to locate and preserve evidence of the attempted execution,” and ordered staff to retain all notes, emails and texts.

CNN reached out to the Alabama Department of Corrections for comment and received no response