Alabama

Advocates call Alabama execution an 'avoidable disaster'

  • FILE - This undated photo provided by the Alabama Department of Corrections shows Ronald Bert Smith Jr.. Smith Jr., an Alabama inmate coughed repeatedly and his upper body heaved for at least 13 minutes during an execution, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, using a drug that has previously been used in problematic lethal injections in at least three other states. (Alabama Department of Corrections via AP, File)

    FILE - This undated photo provided by the Alabama Department of Corrections shows Ronald Bert Smith Jr.. Smith Jr., an Alabama inmate coughed repeatedly and his upper body heaved for at least 13 minutes during an execution, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, using a drug that has previously been used in problematic lethal injections in at least three other states. (Alabama Department of Corrections via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - This undated photo provided by the Alabama Department of Corrections shows Ronald Bert Smith Jr.. Smith Jr., an Alabama inmate coughed repeatedly and his upper body heaved for at least 13 minutes during an execution, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, using a drug that has previously been used in problematic lethal injections in at least three other states. (Alabama Department of Corrections via AP, File)

    FILE - This undated photo provided by the Alabama Department of Corrections shows Ronald Bert Smith Jr.. Smith Jr., an Alabama inmate coughed repeatedly and his upper body heaved for at least 13 minutes during an execution, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, using a drug that has previously been used in problematic lethal injections in at least three other states. (Alabama Department of Corrections via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

Defenders of a condemned inmate in Alabama are calling his execution an "avoidable disaster." For 13 minutes after he was sedated to avoid an unconstitutionally painful death, Ronald Bert Smith Jr. was seen coughing, gasping and moving.

Smith's legal team says these movements Thursday night show "he was not anesthetized at any point during the agonizingly long procedure."

Alabama's Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn disputes that Smith was in pain after being injected with midazolam, a sedative some states are using now that pharmaceutical companies are refusing to make other drugs available for executions.

Smith was sentenced to die for killing convenience store clerk Casey Wilson in 1994, a crime prosecutors described as an execution-style murder.