Monday, 19 November, 2018

Nevada execution in doubt after drug company sues to stop it

Jeremiah Miller is shown in a portrait obtained through Clark County District Court's evidence vault. Miller was killed by Scott Dozier in 2002 Nevada execution in doubt after drug company sues to stop it
Melinda Barton | 13 July, 2018, 20:27

The drug company that creates the sedative Midazolam, which was expected to be one of three drugs used in the execution, sued the State of Nevada and the Department of Corrections, claiming Alvogen was misled in what the drug would be used for. And on Wednesday, Clark County District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez "disallowed the use of the drug", effectively putting the execution on hold, The Associated Press reported.

The last execution took place in 2006.

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

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

A third company, Pfizer, previous year demanded Nevada return the third drug intended for use in the execution, the powerful opioid fentanyl.

Attorney Scott Coffee, a death penalty expert, was quoted as calling the Dozier case "state-assisted suicide".

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

Assistant Solicitor General Jordan Smith says Nevada never tried to hide its goal.

Cardinal Health did not immediately respond to phone or email requests for comment.

On Tuesday, the drug company filed a lawsuit asserting that use of its product for a state killing would cause "irreparable injury to Alvogen, its reputation, and its goodwill".

Drug company Sandoz wants to join New Jersey-based drugmaker Alvogen in its objection to the Wednesday evening execution of Scott Raymond Dozier.

But questions have been raised about whether Nevada's department of corrections broke the law to obtain the fentanyl, and whether the multibillion-dollar distribution company that provided the drug ignored evidence it was to be used in an execution.

Jordan T. Smith, an assistant Nevada solicitor general, countered at Wednesday's hearing that the state didn't put up a "smokescreen" or do anything wrong in getting the drugs.

Scott Raymond Dozier's lawyer, Thomas Ericsson, called Wednesday "a roller-coaster" for Dozier, his family and two close friends who were meeting for what they believed to be the last time at a prison in the remote northeastern city of Ely when they were notified that Dozier's execution was off. Nevada did not originally plan to use midazolam in his execution, but officials said they had to switch to it after its supply of diazepam - a sedative better known as Valium - expired. Pfizer protested a year ago, but Nevada refused the pharmaceutical company's demand to return the diazepam and fentanyl it manufactured. Every state that has included midazolam in its lethal injection protocol has seen gruesome botched executions as a result.

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.

He reiterated his wishes to local paper the Reno Review Journal: "Life in prison isn't a life".

Question marks remain as to whether drug firms can demand their products are not used in executions if states have managed to obtain them.

There was a limit to how much artwork and exercise a person can do in prison, Dozier said in court hearings and letters a year ago, according to ABC News in the US.

The lawsuit names the director of Nevada's department of corrections, James Dzurenda, and the state's chief medical officer, Dr Ihsan Azzam, as conspiring to buy the midazolam along with an unidentified doctor who will participate in the execution. Last year, Dozier dropped his death penalty appeals and asked to be executed.

Miller's torso was found on April 25, 2002, in a suitcase that had been dumped in a trash bin at the Copper Sands apartment complex in the 8100 block of West Flamingo Road. A witness 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 meth, equipment and chemicals.

Dozier, a former stripper and ice dealer, has said he doesn't care if the deadly combination of three drugs hurts, he just wants to die.