Nevada execution could be derailed by drug company’s lawsuit

Scott Dozier wants to die by untested method, even if it’s painful

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.

This would be the first time that fentanyl, one of the central drugs in the U.S. opioid epidemic, has been used in an execution in the United States, and it likely would be a first for cisatracurium as well, said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

"I've been very clear about my desire to be executed ... even if suffering is inevitable", Dozier said in a handwritten note to a judge who postponed his execution in November over concerns the untried drug regimen could leave him suffocating, conscious and unable to move. This isn't living, man.

His attorney, Thomas Ericsson, told CNN that his client has been wanting to be executed.

A U.S. judge has effectively put the execution of a two-time killer on hold after a pharmaceutical company objected to the use of one of its drugs to put someone to death.

Nevada has struggled to find drugs to carry out Dozier's execution because of resistance from manufacturers.

"While Alvogen takes no position on the death penalty itself, Alvogen's products were developed to save and improve patients' lives and their use in executions is fundamentally contrary to this goal", the company said in its complaint.

Dozier was convicted in 2007 of the murder of Jeremiah Miller, who was robbed and shot in 2002 after traveling to Las Vegas, where Dozier had promised to help him get drugs to make methamphetamine. Miller's torso was found inside of a suitcase dumped in a trash bin on West Flamingo Road. Dozier also used names including Chad Wyatt. The state said it would explore whether it could appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court.

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

Pharmaceutical companies have ethically opposed states using their drugs for capital punishment for years, but this is only the second lawsuit to be filed, the AP reported.

A hearing on Wednesday morning will determine if the execution occurs.

Scott Raymond Dozier's execution had been scheduled to take place Wednesday evening.

"With respect to the alleged intent of the ..."

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Drug maker Alvogen alleges the state illegitimately obtained one of its execution drugs and says that the drug combination proposed is untested.

The department of corrections will not comment on the case. That combination of drugs has never been used in an execution. "In furtherance of this effort, Alvogen does not accept direct orders from prison systems or departments of correction".

The use of midazolam remains controversial, as death penalty critics have long argued that it's not a painkilling anesthetic and that the condemned would feel tortuous pain from the drugs that come next.

Midazolam has been used with inconsistent results in states including Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida and Ohio. The drug is meant to render the inmate unconscious.

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

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.

The news divided experts.

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. "This sounds like an article from the Onion", referring to a news satire website. The company said the authorities deliberately sought to circumvent attempts to keep the drug out of the hands of the executioners.

Nebraska is also considering the use of fentanyl in combination with other drugs for executions, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. That will be followed by the muscle paralyzing drug cisatracurium.

Dozier, who attempted suicide in the past, repeated his desire to die during recent interviews with the Reno Gazette Journal and Las Vegas Review-Journal. State officials could appeal right away to the Nevada Supreme Court.

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.

"It is possible another state may have previously used cisatracurium in an execution without having publicly announced it, but as far as we know, that hasn't happened", he said.

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