Nevada execution in doubt after drug company sues to stop it

Nevada execution in doubt after drug company sues to stop it

The state is planning to use three drugs - midazolam (a sedative), fentanyl (the high-potency opioid) and cisatracurium (a paralytic) - to execute Scott Dozier on Wednesday at 8 p.m. (11 p.m. ET).

The New Jersey-based drug company Alvogen said it does not want its drugs used in "botched" executions, according to court documents.

Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez ordered the delay after a hearing in which drugmaker Alvogen said the Nevada obtained the product through "subterfuge" for unapproved purposes. It stated that it wanted nothing to do with executions, and accused the state of Arkansas past year of obtaining some of the drugs used in lethal injections under false pretenses.

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.

Dozier suspended any appeals of his conviction and sentence, making him one of about 10 percent of the 1,477 inmates who gave up appeals and were executed nationwide since 1977, according to the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C. Critics say he is seeking state-assisted suicide. Dozier's execution at Ely State Prison would be the first in Nevada since 2006.

The state is expected to appeal the judge's order to the state Supreme Court, and the judge in Las Vegas has scheduled a September 10 hearing involving drug company attorneys. 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", Alvogen said.

An hour before the execution Wednesday, death penalty opponents plan to hold a vigil and rally outside the governor's mansion. These three-drug cocktail, he said, "sounds like a genuinely lethal regimen that I would imagine would be associated with very little discomfort".

The Review-Journal reported in 2016 that Nevada - which last executed a convict 12 years ago - had run out of at least one drug used in executions and was unable to source replacement stockpiles.

Following his arrest on June 25, 2002, Dozier was connected to another crime, the murder of Jasen "Griffin" Green, whose remains had been found in a plastic container in the desert north of Phoenix a year earlier.

Lawyers for Alvogen alleged that Nevada officials acquired Alvogen medicines "illicitly and through subterfuge", in the process violating state laws meant to tackle the opioid epidemic and prevent the misuse of unsafe drugs.


Family members of Dozier's victims are not expected at his execution, Nevada prisons spokeswoman Brooke Santina said.

Nevada corrections officials revised their lethal injection protocol last week, saying they were switching to midazolam to replace expired prison supplies of another sedative, diazepam.

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.

Lawyers for Alvogen, the maker of Midazolam, argued in their brief that the Department of Corrections obtained Midazolam through a third party _ Cardinal Health _ without disclosing that it was to be used for executions.

Nancy Hart, who heads the Nevada Coalition Against the Death Penalty, said that while her group doesn't want to see Dozier die, the execution is much bigger than one person.

"Life in prison isn't a life", Dozier told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in an interview published on Sunday.

"I don't want to die", he told The Marshall Project days after the execution was stayed in 2017. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid well known for its role in the opioid epidemic, has "never been used in an execution before".

Mr Miller had come to Nevada to buy ingredients to make meth. But the state has so far refused to do so.

There's a limit to how much artwork and exercise a person can do in prison, Dozier said in court hearings and letters to Clark County District Judge Jennifer Togliatti, who postponed his execution a year ago.

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