People Scheduled to be Murdered by Nevada
From [HERE] and [HERE] Hours before Nevada was set to carry out the country’s first lethal injection using the powerful opioid fentanyl, a judge on Wednesday halted the execution because of a challenge from a drug company that objects to the state’s plan to use one of its products as a sedative for the procedure.
Nevada’s plans to use fentanyl as part of its execution of Scott Dozier — a white man convicted of murder who said he wants the lethal injection to proceed — made it the latest in a string of states that have turned to unprecedented drug combinations or uncommon execution methods as they try to carry out death sentences amid difficulties obtaining drugs.
State officials planned to use a three-drug cocktail that includes the sedative midazolam, the opioid fentanyl and a paralytic drug called cisatracurium, which have never been used in an execution.
While some other states have turned to comparatively unknown chemicals, Nevada’s plan stood out for relying on fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller that has helped fuel the country’s ongoing opioid epidemic. Depending on what happens in Dozier’s case, Nebraska ultimately could wind up carrying out the first fentanyl-assisted execution, something that state is seeking to do this summer.
Attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have sued the state and forced it to turn over invoices, revealing smaller purchases of fentanyl over months at a time in an apparent attempt to disguise the purpose of the drug's purchase.
ACLU attorneys and other critics have questioned how the state obtained the drug, according to The Guardian, including whether state officials broke the law to obtain it or whether the multibillion-dollar drug distribution company Cardinal Health ignored evidence the drug sales were intended to be used for executions.
“Using fentanyl in an execution is particularly strange and confusing because of its place in the opioid epidemic,” ACLU legal director Amy Rose said. “But on top of that it’s never been used in an execution before. It’s extremely experimental. There is a very real risk of a botched execution.”
“It’s concerning that Cardinal Health would sell it to the department of corrections if it knew the drugs would be used in executions,” Rose added. She said that the ACLU is seeking to understand whether state authorities “lied to Cardinal in any way."
Fentanyl-laced drugs have been at the center of the opioid abuse epidemic for years, as drug is often sold on the street as a more potent version of heroin or other opioids.
In 2016, 59,000 to 65,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Overdose death numbers have not yet been released for 2017.
Nevada officials faced a late challenge from Alvogen, a pharmaceutical firm that said the state “illegitimately acquired” its drug, the sedative midazolam. That drug has become controversial for its use in executions, and Alvogen highlighted some of those incidents in court, including the bungled 2014 Oklahoma execution that saw an inmate grimace and kick, an Arizona execution that same year that took nearly two hours and the 2016 Alabama execution that had witnesses recounting that the inmate coughed and heaved.
Alvogen asked a judge to block Nevada from using its drug and called for the product to be returned. During a hearing Wednesday, Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez, who presides over the civil division of the district court in Clark County, barred the state from using its supply of midazolam in Dozier’s execution, according to a court spokeswoman. Gonzalez also set a status check in the case for September.
According to Nevada’s execution protocol, the state’s plan going into Wednesday was to inject Dozier with three drugs: midazolam to sedate him, fentanyl to cause him to lose consciousness and then cisatracurium to paralyze his muscles. Medical experts warned that the final drug could make the procedure riskier, arguing that if either of the first two drugs are administered improperly or do not work, Dozier could potentially remain conscious while the paralytic renders him unable to move or breathe.
A spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Corrections said the execution “has been postponed” because of the judge’s order and “will not take place until further notice.” She had previously declined to comment on the lawsuit and the company’s claims that the state illegally obtained the drug, citing the pending court hearing. State officials did not immediately file an appeal after Gonzalez’s decision.
Dozier, 47, was convicted of killing a man in a Las Vegas hotel, cutting him into pieces and stealing his money in 2002. Dozier also has been clear about his desire to have the execution carried out.
“Life in prison isn’t a life,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal this week. “This isn’t living, man. It’s just surviving. … If people say they’re going to kill me, get to it.”