Inmate to be executed using new, controversial drug combination

Death row inmate Scott Dozier appears before Judge Jennifer Togliatti during a hearing about his execution at the Regional Justice Center on Monday Sept. 11 2017 in downtown Las Vegas. Richard

Death row inmate Scott Dozier appears before Judge Jennifer Togliatti during a hearing about his execution at the Regional Justice Center on Monday Sept. 11 2017 in downtown Las Vegas. Richard

Nevada plans to carry out the first execution using fentanyl, a drug at the heart of the United States opioid epidemic, on Wednesday.

But a last-minute lawsuit filed by a drug company that doesn't want its product used in "botched" executions could derail Scott Raymond Dozier's scheduled Wednesday execution.

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

Per The Associated Press, Dozier has repeatedly affirmed his desire to die, even if it's painful.

The order is the first time a drug company has successfully sued to halt an execution in the USA involving one of its drugs. Dozier, who is on death row and is asking a judge to force the state to carry out his execution.

This is the second lawsuit of its kind in the USA from a pharmaceutical company, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which tracks data about the death penalty and has criticized the way capital punishment is administered in America.

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

The drug company Alvogen, which makes the sedative midazolam, filed a complaint in Nevada's Clark County on Tuesday, citing that the Nevada Department of Corrections illegally obtained the drug for use in the execution of Scott Dozier, a former meth dealer who was sentenced to die in 2007 for first-degree murder with a deadly weapon and robbery with a deadly weapon.

"What we're seeing from the drug companies is rather than simply protesting that the drugs have been improperly obtained, they're going into court to try to protect their corporate interests and to try to protect the integrity of their medicines", Death Penalty Information Center Executive Director Robert Dunham said in an interview.

A second pharmaceutical company, Sandoz, also raised objections at Wednesday's hearing to the use of one of its drugs - the muscle-paralyzing substance cisatracurium - in Dozier's execution.

Family members of Dozier's victims are not expected at his 8 p.m. execution at Ely State Prison, 250 miles north of Las Vegas, Nevada prisons spokeswoman Brooke Santina said. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid well known for its role in the opioid epidemic, has "never been used in an execution before".

Alvogen said in a statement that it was pleased with the ruling and will continue to work through the legal system to ensure its products are not used in executions.


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 Nevada didn't put up a "smokescreen" or do anything wrong in getting the drugs. Earlier that year, another inmate, Clayton Lockett, had been injected with midazolam, but instead of becoming unconscious, he twitched, convulsed and spoke.

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

"Life in prison isn't a life", Dozier told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

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.

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

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.

In 2005, Dozier was sentenced to 22 years in prison for shooting 26-year-old Jasen Greene, whose body was found in 2002 in a shallow grave outside Phoenix. His decapitated torso was found in a suitcase in an apartment building trash bin, also missing lower legs and hands.

The drug was used in the execution of Joseph Wood in 2014, who took almost two hours to die, and led Arizona to stop using midazolam.

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

Nevada's last execution was in 2006. They argued the untried three-drug combination would be less humane than putting down a pet.

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.