Nevada Execution on Hold After Company Objects to Use of its Drug

Death row inmate Scott Dozier appears before Judge Jennifer Togliatti during a hearing about his execution at the Regional Justice Center on Monday Sept. 11 2017 in downtown Las Vegas. Richard

The state Supreme Court later overruled that decision.

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.

Nevada plans to carry out the first execution using fentanyl, a drug at the heart of the U.S. opioid epidemic, on Wednesday.

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

Dozier, 47, is not making legal challenges to halt his execution, telling the Las Vegas Review-Journal: "Life in prison isn't a life".

Nevada prisons spokeswoman Brooke Santina had no immediate comment.

Alvogen, the pharmaceutical company, said in a statement that it "does not condone the use of any of its drug products, including midazolam, for use in state sponsored executions".

The pharmaceutical company raised concerns that the drug could lead to a botched execution, citing cases that seemingly went awry elsewhere around the country.

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". "Nevada Department of Corrections to use our midazolam product in an execution, we are exploring all potential avenues, including legal recourse, to prevent the improper use of our product in this particular execution", Alvogen spokesman Halldór Kristmannsson said. The judge, who said she needed time to read the lengthy complaint and the accompanying application for a temporary restraining order, scheduled another hearing for 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Judge Gonzalez set a hearing in the case for September 10.

The previous challenge, filed a year ago by a different company in Arkansas, was ultimately unsuccessful in stopping that execution.

The fact that he is not putting up a legal contest to the never-before-used method of his execution, a protocol made up of midazolam, fentanyl and cisatracurium, means that "there is nobody in the court system who is vindicating the public interest" about whether it is legal and constitutional, said Dunham.

Fentanyl, the synthetic opioid at the heart of the U.S. opioid epidemic, has never been used in an execution before, but it is midazolam at the centre of Alvogen's last-minute lawsuit. But the state has refused.

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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.

Jordan T Smith, an assistant Nevada solicitor general, countered at Wednesday's hearing that Nevada did not put up a "smokescreen" or do anything wrong in getting the drugs. It also said it "does not accept direct orders from prison systems or departments of correction".

Midazolam has been used as a replacement for Valium - diazepam - after Nevada's stocks of the sedative expired, a Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) release said.

Even if, as has happened before with these experimental injections, the drug combination leaves him paralyzed yet still conscious, effectively suffocating him alive.

David Juurlink, an expert in toxicology at the University of Toronto, told NPR that the role of fentanyl in this protocol is to sedate a person and stop their breathing.

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.

"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. He is an honorably discharged Army veteran; a divorced father who became an emergency medical technician during his then-wife's high-risk pregnancy; a pastels painter; a landscaper; and a methamphetamine user, maker and dealer.

Dozier was sentenced to death in 2007 for robbing, killing and dismembering 22-year-old Jeremiah Miller at a Las Vegas motel in 2002.

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.

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

He did, however, let federal public defenders review and challenge the execution protocol drawn up previous year by state medical and prison officials.

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