Nevada execution could be derailed by drug company’s lawsuit

Clay Curtis
July 13, 2018

A Nevada judge is halting the use of a drug in the execution of a twice-convicted killer hours before he was scheduled to die by a first-of-its-kind lethal injection mixture.

Pharmaceutical companies have been resisting the use of their drugs in executions for 10 years, citing both legal and ethical concerns, but McKesson Corp. became the first company to sue in the US last year over use of its product in an Arkansas execution, said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez ordered the delay after a hearing in which drugmaker Alvogen said the Nevada obtained the product through "subterfuge" for unapproved purposes.

This was the plan for Dozier, who would be the subject of Nevada's first execution in 12 years. "It is deeply troubling that Nevada government officials are barreling ahead with execution when the chances of torturing Dozier are so high".

Dozier did, however, let federal public defenders review and challenge the execution protocol drawn up a year ago by state medical and prison officials for Nevada's first lethal injection since 2006.

Scott Dozier, 47, was supposed to be dead later today.

Dozier, whose execution also was postponed in November amid concerns about the drugs being used and who has attempted suicide in the past, was disappointed, Ericsson said.

Alvogen asked a judge to block Nevada from using its drug and called for the product to be returned.

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

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".

The Alvogen challenge in Nevada carried echoes of a drug distributor's attempts previous year to have courts block Arkansas from using a chemical it sold in a planned series of executions.

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A United States court indefinitely suspended the execution of a murder convict after a pharmaceutical company issued an appeal against its product being used as part of the lethal injection.

Though Dozier doesn't oppose the execution, Nevada officials faced a late challenge from Alvogen, a pharmaceutical firm that said the state "illegitimately acquired" its drug, the sedative midazolam.

The company further alleges that the doctor who acts as medical officer at the execution will be breaking a Nevada law requiring that a physician administer controlled drugs exclusively for a legitimate medical objective.

The execution of Scott Dozier, set for Wednesday night, has been halted after a temporary court injunction in Las Vegas. Corrections spokeswoman Brooke Santina said the execution would remain effectively postponed for at least that long.

Death-penalty watchers have pointed to inconsistent results with midazolam since the 2014 executions of Dennis McGuire in OH and Josph Rudolph Wood III in Arizona.

"Life in prison isn't a life", Dozier told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in an interview published on Sunday.

He says that he prefers death over life in prison. In 2014, an inmate in OH and another one in Arizona were left gasping and snorting before they died in what death penalty foes called botched executions.

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

At the time of the trial, Dozier was already serving a 22-year sentence in Arizona for killing and dismembering 26-year-old Jasen Green in another drug-related murder.

It was the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada that sued and forced the state to release details about where it obtained its execution drugs. 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 methamphetamine, equipment and chemicals. Miller's headless torso was later found stuffed in a suitcase in a trash bin, media said.

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.

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