Nevada Judge Halts Execution Set To Use Experimental Drug Cocktail

Nevada Judge Halts Execution Set To Use Experimental Drug Cocktail

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.

Alvogen produces the sedative midazolam, which Nevada Department of Prisons Brooke Santina says Wednesday was the first drug scheduled to be used on Dozier according to the protocol signed by department director James Dzurenda. Clark County District Court spokeswoman Mary Ann Price said the company would also need to file with Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez a request for a court order to halt the proceeding.

Last year, a pharmaceutical company sued the state of Arkansas over drugs used in its lethal injections, but was unsuccessful.

Dozier, 47, was sentenced to death in 2007 for the 2002 murder of 22-year-old Jeremiah Miller.

Dozier, whose execution also was postponed in November amid concerns about the drugs being used and who has attempted suicide in the past, was disappointed, Ericsson said. Dozier, who is on death row and is asking a judge to force the state to carry out his execution.

Judge Gonzalez set a hearing in the case for September 10. The state said it would explore whether it could appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court. The ruling effectively put the execution on hold.

Sandoz, which produces other drugs Nevada plans to use in the execution, said it wanted to object to the procedure although it hasn't yet joined the suit.

The order is the first time a drug company has successfully sued to halt an execution in the USA involving one of its drugs.

At the time of the trial, Dozier was already serving a 22-year sentence in Arizona for killing and dismembering 26-year-old Jasen Green in another drug-related murder.

She said that has virtually closed the pipeline on states accessing those drugs and forced them to turn to domestic pharmaceutical companies.

In 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that the use of midazolam in lethal injections is not a violation of the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

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Dozier is slated for execution Wednesday night at 8PM.

The last execution took place in 2006. In 2014, an inmate in OH and another one in Arizona were left gasping and snorting before they died in what death penalty foes called botched executions.

"I don't want to die", he told The Marshall Project days after the execution was stayed in 2017.

Alvogen learned from disclosures made in response to litigation by the Nevada Branch of the American Civil Liberties Union that the department of corrections acquired the drug from Cardinal Health, a distributor, through purchase orders from May 2018 that were to be completed in June 2018, according to the lawsuit. But the state has so far refused to do so.

Fentanyl, which has been blamed for deadly overdoses across the country, has not been used before in an execution.

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

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 previous year. A witness there 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. Miller's head was never found and he was identified by tattoos on his torso.

They argued that the untried three-drug combination would be less humane than putting down a pet.

The state high court in May decided on procedural grounds that the execution could go forward but did not review the three-drug protocol that death penalty experts have characterized as experimental and risky.

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

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