U.S. execution blocked after company objects to use of its drug

Evarado Alatorre
Julio 12, 2018

Court spokesman Michael Sommermeyer says that some of the seven justices are in Chicago for a Nevada State Bar Association meeting, but that the court could meet by teleconference.

The state had not yet appealed by midday.

"It is deeply troubling that Nevada government officials are barreling ahead with execution when the chances of torturing Dozier are so high".

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

It is the first case in which an execution has been halted by a lawsuit from a drugmaker, death-penalty experts said.

Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez in Nevada ordered the delay Wednesday after the company sued to prevent its drug midazolam from being used in "botched" executions.

The three-drug cocktail Nevada planned to use for Dozier's execution - including painkiller fentanyl and paralytic cisatracuium - has never been used in the state.

The Nevada department of corrections said it had no comment on the lawsuit. State officials could appeal right away to the Nevada Supreme Court.

According to the pharmaceutical company, the state obtained their drug illegally, and Alvogen wants that drug returned to them.

Following the use of midazolam in a number of botched executions, Alvogen wrote to the governors, attorney generals and prison authorities in every state with a death penalty saying it "strongly objects to the use of its products in capital punishment".

A Nevada inmate slated to die by a three-drug lethal injection combination never before used in the US has said repeatedly he wants his sentence carried out and he doesn't care if it's painful.

The judge ruled that based on that letter, Alvogen had a reasonable probability of winning its lawsuit, and she issued the temporary restraining order against the use of the drug. Gonzalez set a hearing in the case for September 10.

A lawsuit filed by the pharmaceutical company Alvogen, however, put Dozier's execution by lethal injection on hold.

Nebraska is also considering the use of fentanyl in combination with other drugs for executions, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

However, the legal challenge filed by Alvogen is only the second of its kind in the U.S., said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Centre in Washington.

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Scott Dozier, 47, is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 8 p.m. local time at a state prison in Ely, Nevada, about 245 miles (395 km) north of Las Vegas, in what would be the state's first execution in 12 years.

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

The midazolam would be used to sedate Dozier before he is killed using fentanyl, a drug at the forefront of the USA opioid epidemic that was also allegedly obtained illicitly. But the state refused.

"This whole action is just PR damage control", Mr Smith said of Alvogen.

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

The sedative is expected to render Dozier unconscious before he is injected with the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl, which has been blamed for overdoses nationwide but has not been used in an execution. Fentanyl is used to slow the heart rate, sedate and continue to suppress breathing, and finally Cisatracurium to paralyze the inmate before death.

Bice said Alvogen does not take a position on the death penalty itself but opposes the use of the drug in a way that is fundamentally contrary to its objective - saving and improving lives.

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. Shortages of the drug, which has seen its distribution greatly restricted by the European Union, have forced states to get creative ― often adopting what may be unconstitutional alternatives.

Dozier has said that he wishes to be executed and that being put to death is better than spending the rest of his life in prison.

"Life in prison isn't a life", the Army veteran and methamphetamine user and dealer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal recently.

There's a limit to how much artwork and physical exercise a person can do in prison, Dozier said in court hearings and letters to the Las Vegas judge who postponed his execution.

Dozier was sentenced to death in 2002 after killing and dismembering 22-year-old Jeremiah Miller. Miller had come to Nevada to buy ingredients to make meth.

In 2005, Dozier was sentenced to 22 years in prison for the shooting and mauling of 26-year-old Jasen Greene, whose body was found in 2002 in a shallow grave outside Phoenix.

A witness said Dozier used a sledgehammer to break Mr Greene's limbs so the corpse would fit in a plastic storage container.

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