Nevada execution halted; drug company opposes midazolam use

Jeremiah Miller is shown in a portrait obtained through Clark County District Court's evidence vault. Miller was killed by Scott Dozier in 2002

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.

Togliatti presided over the 2007 trial in Nevada in which a jury decided Dozier should die for murder convictions in Arizona and Nevada in separate 2002 slayings of drug-trade associates, according to court records.

Scott Raymond Dozier, a twice-convicted killer, has said he prefers to be executed over living in prison.

Clark County District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez scheduled a hearing Wednesday to decide if the execution can take place just hours later.

If the ruling sticks, Alvogen would become the first drugmaker to successfully sue to halt an execution.

Today's execution would be the first time in 12 years that Nevada is carrying out the death penalty.

The state Supreme Court later overruled that decision.

Alvogen alleges that the state began buying drugs covertly and that Nevada's department of corrections used a licence held by the state's chief medical officer to surreptitiously obtain the midazolam. The pharmaceutical company also raised fears that the drug could lead to a botched execution, citing cases that apparently went awry elsewhere around the country.

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. Dozier is slated to die Wednesday, July 11, 2018, by a three-drug lethal injection combination never before tried in any state and 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 another hearing for September 10. But the legal challenge filed by Alvogen is only the second of its kind in the US, said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington.

The health care supply company McKesson filed a similar lawsuit in Arkansas a year ago, but that challenge was rejected.

"Alvogen has undertaken controls to avoid diversion of this product for use in execution protocols", the company states on its website concerning midazolam.

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.

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

Nevada refused Pfizer's demand previous year to return the company's diazepam and fentanyl, which has been blamed for overdoses nationwide but has not been used in an execution.

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

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

Alvogen said that Nevada law is clear that it is an offence to obtain a controlled drug "by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, subterfuge or alteration".

Midazolam was substituted in May for expired prison stocks of diazepam, a similar sedative commonly known as Valium.

Alvogen said it distributes Midazolam as an injectable medication, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, for use in inducing general anesthesia and preoperative sedation. Under Nevada's new execution protocol, the inmate is next given fentanyl and then cisatracurium, one to slow his breathing, the other to stop it.

Alvogen learned from disclosures made in response to litigation by the Nevada Branch of the American Civil Liberties Union that the department of corrections acquired the drug from Cardinal Health, a distributor, through purchase orders from May 2018 that were to be completed in June 2018, according to the lawsuit.

"You got something that's killing hundreds of people a day across the United States, and you got prisons who can't get death penalty drugs, so they're turning to the drug that's killing hundreds of people across the United States", he said.

"Life in prison isn't a life", the 47-year-old inmate told the Review-Journal.

He was convicted of second-degree murder in the Arizona slaying of Jasen "Griffin" Greene and sentenced to 22 years in prison in 2005, before he was brought to Nevada to face charges in Miller's death.

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.

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