Judge grants motion to preserve evidence after execution called off due to inability to gain access to sufficient veins


(CNN) — An Alabama judge granted an emergency motion on Friday to preserve evidence filed by the attorneys of death row inmate Kenneth Smith after his execution was called off on Thursday night.

In their motion, Smith’s attorneys asked the court to preserve evidence in Smith’s execution, which was called off Thursday around 11:20 p.m. local time. His attorneys claim that Smith suffered several injuries when Alabama Department of Corrections personnel attempted for “approximately one hour to gain the necessary venous access for the execution” and made “several attempts at accessing veins in several locations.”

In a news release Thursday night, the corrections department said they could not carry out Smith’s execution due to “time constraints resulting from the lateness of the court proceedings.”

“The execution was called off at approximately 11:20 pm once it was determined that the protocol could not be performed before the expiration of the death warrant.”

During a news conference on Thursday night, Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner John Hamm said that they started execution protocol and decided they would not finish it before the death warrant expired after they were able to gain only access to one of Smith’s veins.

Hamm said they were not going to have time to gain central line access as well as second vein access as required by protocol.

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

In Friday’s court filing, Smith’s attorneys asked that documentation of his injuries and notes, records, photographs, videos, emails and texts between Hamm, the warden and any corrections department officials involved in the execution, be preserved as well as all medical supplies used.

“Mr. Smith no doubt has injuries from the attempted execution — and certainly physical and testimonial evidence that needs to be preserved — that can and should be photographed and/or filmed. It is Plaintiff’s counsel’s understanding that Mr. Smith was strapped to a gurney for approximately four hours last night,” the motion said.

US District Judge Austin Huffaker, Jr. granted the motion allowing Smith’s attorneys to visit with him on Saturday and Sunday with a cell phone to take photos and videos of any injuries Smith may have from Thursday.

Huffaker also ordered the corrections department to “make immediate efforts to locate and preserve evidence concerning the attempted execution,” as well as ordering personnel to preserve all notes, emails and texts.

CNN has reached out to the Alabama Department of Corrections for comment and has not heard back.

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