Ralph Chapoco

Ralph Chapoco

Ralph Chapoco covers state politics as a senior reporter for the Alabama Reflector. His main responsibility is the criminal justice system in Alabama.

A medical bed with straps is pictured in a Texas execution chamber

Alabama governor sets January date for nation’s first execution by nitrogen gas

By: - November 9, 2023

Gov. Kay Ivey Wednesday set a January execution date for Kenneth Eugene Smith, convicted of the 1988 murder-for-hire of Elizabeth Sennett. Ivey set an execution window starting at midnight on Jan. 25, 2024 and running until 6 am on January 26, 2024. It could be the first execution carried out through nitrogen suffocation, a method […]

Alabama Supreme Court gives go ahead for execution by nitrogen hypoxia

By: - November 2, 2023

Alabama is one step closer to becoming the first state to execute someone by nitrogen hypoxia. In a 6-2 decision handed down Wednesday, the Alabama Supreme Court allowed the state to proceed with the execution of Kenneth Eugene Smith, convicted of the 1988 murder of Elizabeth Sennett, under that method. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall […]

The Fee Trap: Alabama court costs and fines put burden on those least able to pay

By: - September 18, 2023

During a lunch break last May, Kevin Jackson was driving in Northport when a car in front of him collided with another vehicle. Jackson, who said he was not involved in the collision, got pulled over by a police officer, who alleged that Jackson was fleeing the scene. “I was on my lunch break, and […]

Doctors, ethicists skeptical that nitrogen executions will be humane

By: - September 8, 2023

Alabama’s announcement that it will try to execute Kenneth Eugene Smith by nitrogen gas suffocation will set off a round of issues about the ethics and practicality of using an untested and unproven method of execution. The Alabama Attorney General’s Office said in an Aug. 25 request to set an execution date for Smith that […]