The execution chamber at Ely State Prison on Nov. 10, 2016. (Photo: Nevada Department of Corrections via AP, File)
LAS VEGAS — A Nevada judge has scheduled a hearing next month on a bid by prosecutors to set an execution date for a man convicted of walking into a Las Vegas supermarket with a shotgun and shooting five people, killing four, in 1999.
Zane Michael Floyd's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Brad Levenson, said Thursday that Floyd has not given up appeals and will "vigorously" fight in state and federal courts prosecutors' efforts to carry out the death sentence.
A filing Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas claims that execution by lethal injection would violate Floyd's constitutional rights. A hearing was not immediately set.
Meanwhile, a state judge in Las Vegas set the May 12 hearing on a Wednesday filing by Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson seeking a death warrant.
Levenson has already filed several procedural challenges of that effort.
Floyd, now 45, is being held at Ely State Prison. He would be the first person executed in Nevada since 2006, when Daryl Mack asked to be put to death for his conviction in a 1988 rape and murder in Reno. The state allows executions only by lethal injection.
In 2017 and 2018, executions of a twice-convicted killer, Scott Raymond Dozier, were canceled close to his scheduled dates amid legal battles over plans to use a three-drug combination that had never been used for a lethal injection in the U.S.
Dozier had given up appeals, insisted he wanted to die and had been placed on suicide watch before he hanged himself in his cell at Ely State Prison in January 2019.
Floyd appeared to exhaust federal appeals last November of the death sentence he received in 2000. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear his case.
"There is no longer any legal reason or good cause why the judgment of death should not be executed," Wolfson's motion for a death warrant said.
The developments come at the same time a bill aimed at abolishing the death penalty in Nevada advanced further in the Legislature than any similar measure in recent years.
Now before the state Senate, it would commute the sentences of about 70 inmates on death row to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Scott Coffee, a veteran deputy Clark County public defender and longtime advocate for abolishing capital punishment in Nevada, called passage of the bill on a party-line vote in the Democratic-controlled Assembly "the first real recognition of how broken the death penalty is in Nevada."
Coffee called the timing of prosecutors' effort to execute Floyd "interesting."
Wolfson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal the timing was coincidental, and that Floyd was "an example of the type of murderer that the death penalty was designed for."
"It is my responsibility to move forward as the jury and citizens of this community have asked me to do to seek the warrant of execution," the district attorney said.
Today, the killings would be characterized as an active shooter attack. Supermarket manager Carlos Chuck Leos and employees Thomas Darnell, Lucille Alice Tarantino and Dennis Troy Sargent died. Zachary Emenegger was shot twice but survived by playing dead.
The attack was captured on store security video and Floyd was arrested by police in the supermarket parking lot.