Nevada Postpones Planned Execution Using Fentanyl

Scott Dozier wants to die by untested method, even if it’s painful

Critics are warning about the "very real risk of a botched execution" in what is to be the first US case of capital punishment using fentanyl.

"Using fentanyl in an execution is particularly odd and confusing because of its place in the opioid epidemic", said the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Nevada, Amy Rose.

Clark County District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez scheduled a hearing Wednesday to decide if the execution can take place just hours later.

Nevada prisons spokeswoman Brooke Santina had no immediate comment.

Dunham, the Death Penalty Information Center official, said that if cisatracurium is used in the the Nevada execution, it would be the first time that a state publicly acknowledged using it to execute an inmate.

According to the pharmaceutical company, the state obtained their drug illegally, and Alvogen wants that drug returned to them.

"Midazolam is not approved for use in such an application", the document said, adding uses of midazolam in other states "have been extremely controversial and have led to widespread concern that prisoners have been exposed to cruel and unusual treatment".

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The planned execution, using a three-drug cocktail, had been set for Wednesday evening at Ely State Prison in Nevada.

A Nevada judge is halting the use of a drug in the execution of twice-convicted killer Scott Raymond Dozier hours before he was scheduled to die by a first-of-its-kind lethal injection mixture.

Nevada's last execution occurred in 2006, when Daryl Linnie Mack asked to be put to death for his conviction in a 1988 rape and murder in Reno.

Lauren Kaufman, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, which filed a separate lawsuit last week seeking public records related to the state's lethal injection procedures, said the group was anticipating Wednesday's arguments.

Alvogen said that Nevada law is clear that it is an offence to obtain a controlled drug "by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, subterfuge or alteration".

Midazolam has been used as a replacement for Valium - diazepam - after Nevada's stocks of the sedative expired, a Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) release said.

Jordan T. Smith, an assistant Nevada solicitor general, countered at Wednesday's hearing that the state didn't put up a "smokescreen" or do anything wrong in getting the drugs.

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"Life in prison isn't a life", Dozier told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Earlier that year, another inmate, Clayton Lockett, had been injected with midazolam, but instead of becoming unconscious, he twitched, convulsed and spoke. Fentanyl is used to slow the heart rate, sedate and continue to suppress breathing, and finally Cisatracurium to paralyze the inmate before death.

He says that he prefers death over life in prison.

"Life in prison isn't a life", the 47-year-old Army veteran and methamphetamine user and dealer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal recently.

In court hearings and letters, he said there is a limit to how much artwork and exercise a person can do in prison.

In 2005, Dozier was sentenced to 22 years in prison for shooting to death another drug-trade associate, 26-year-old Jasen Greene, whose body was found in 2002 in a shallow grave outside Phoenix.

In the November case, Dozier was sentenced to die for robbing, killing and dismembering 22-year-old Jeremiah Miller at the iconic (and now demolished) La Concha motel on the Las Vegas Strip. His decapitated torso was found in a suitcase in an apartment building trash bin, also missing lower legs and hands.

The lawsuit names the director of Nevada's department of corrections, James Dzurenda, and the state's chief medical officer, Dr Ihsan Azzam, as conspiring to buy the midazolam along with an unidentified doctor who will participate in the execution. A witness testified Dozier used a sledgehammer to break the victim's limbs so the corpse would fit in a plastic storage container. The state said it would explore whether it could appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court. They argued the untried three-drug combination would be less humane than putting down a pet.

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In court papers, Alvogen also cited the risk of a botched execution, citing instances in Alabama, Arizona and Oklahoma in the past few years in which inmates were left gasping or snorting, appeared to regain consciousness or took an unusually long time to die.

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