Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Nevada inmate wants his death sentence, painful or not

Nevada inmate wants his death sentence, painful or not

Pharmaceutical companies have been resisting the use of their drugs in executions for 10 years, citing both legal and ethical concerns, but McKesson Corp. became the first company to sue in the USA last year over use of its product in an Arkansas execution, said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

The Nevada Supreme Court could hear an appeal Wednesday afternoon of a judge's ruling to halt the use of a drug in the execution of a twice-convicted killer.

Fentanyl is at the center of America's deadly opioid epidemic that kills thousands of people each year.

Dozier, who attempted suicide in the past, repeated his desire to die during recent interviews with the Reno Gazette Journal and Las Vegas Review-Journal.

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

The Nevada department of corrections said it had no comment on the lawsuit.

If the execution had not been interrupted, Dozier would have been the first inmate in the United States to be executed by a lethal injection laced with fentanyl.

The company argues that it would suffer "immediate and irreparable harm" should the execution proceed.

Alvogen claims in court papers that the drug was obtained by state officials through subterfuge, including the misuse of the Nevada chief medical officer's licence to buy controlled medications that were then illegally diverted for use in the execution chamber.

"The state issued 247 requests for proposals on September 2 after its stockpile of at least one drug used in executions had expired".

"The Midazolam has been used in other executions in half a dozen other states with really bad consequences- seriously prolonged executions, with gasping really tortuous effects", says Nancy Hart with Nevada Coalition Against the Death Penalty.

The state intends to use a synthetic opioid - involved in more than 20,000 overdose deaths in 2016 alone - to kill Scott Dozier, a double murderer, after finding it hard to obtain other drugs for Nevada's first execution in 12 years because of opposition from pharmaceutical manufacturers.

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Pharmaceutical companies have ethically opposed states using their drugs for capital punishment for years, but this is only the second lawsuit to be filed, the AP reported. The painkiller, a synthetic opioid, is fatal in high enough doses.

The fact that he is not putting up a legal contest to the never-before-used method of his execution, a protocol made up of midazolam, fentanyl and cisatracurium, means that "there is nobody in the court system who is vindicating the public interest" about whether it is legal and constitutional, said Dunham.

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.

Nevada obtained the midazolam after its supply of another sedative, diazepam, commonly known as Valium, expired.

The midazolam is expected to render Dozier unconscious before he is injected with the fentanyl. He said drugs ordered by the state prison system are regularly shipped to Las Vegas.

Nevada's new execution protocol also calls for the use of fentanyl to slow the inmate's breathing and cisatracurium to stop his breathing.

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

Last year, Dozier dropped his death penalty appeals and asked to be executed.

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. Miller's head was never found and he was identified by tattoos on his torso. A witness testified that Dozier used a sledgehammer to break Greene's limbs so the corpse would fit in a plastic tote that Dozier used to transport methamphetamine, equipment and chemicals.

He did, however, let federal public defenders review and challenge the execution protocol drawn up previous year by state medical and prison officials.

Midazolam has been used with inconsistent results in states including Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida and Ohio.

One of the letters was sent to Nevada's Ely state prison where executions are carried out, addressed to the warden, Timothy Filson.

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