Nevada AG Laxalt’s office: April 1 expiration date for drug in execution
LAS VEGAS — Nevada prison officials and the state attorney general are asking the state Supreme Court for a quick review of a never-before-tried protocol for the first lethal injection in the state in 11 years, because one of the drugs that would be used expires in April.
Meanwhile, the condemned inmate is telling a state court judge who put his execution on hold pending high court review that he changed his mind and doesn’t care anymore if a disputed paralytic is used as the third drug in his execution.
“My overarching and near singular desire is to get my execution done as expeditiously as possible,” Scott Raymond Dozier said in a handwritten Dec. 12 letter from Ely State Prison.
The twice-convicted murderer, now 47, asks Clark County District Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti in Las Vegas to rescind her order for the state Department of Corrections to remove cisatracurium as final drug in his lethal injection, and to reschedule his execution, which was canceled Nov. 14. The judge set a hearing Tuesday morning on that request.
The lethal injection protocol developed by a state chief medical officer who has since resigned calls for the paralytic to be administered after high doses of the sedative diazepam, commonly known as Valium, and the powerful opioid painkiller fentanyl, which has been blamed for overdose deaths nationwide.
Diazepam is sometimes offered in pill form to condemned inmates ahead of time, but the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center says none of the three drugs has been used directly for executions in the 31 states with capital punishment.
Many states have struggled in recent years to find drugs that pass constitutional hurdles after pharmaceutical companies and distributors banned their use in executions.
Cisatracurium would prevent muscle movement and ensure that breathing stops, according to Dr. John DiMuro, an anesthesiologist who quit as Nevada’s top doctor in October and returned to private practice. A letter says his departure followed bullying by his supervisor, and wasn’t related to the execution or the lethal injection protocol he developed.
Togliatti told prison officials they could go ahead with the first two drugs, which an expert medical witness testified would likely cause death. But the judge cited concerns that the paralytic could “mask” or prevent witnesses from seeing indications of pain if Dozier suffers.
The seven-member Supreme Court didn’t schedule an immediate hearing on a 52-page appeal filed Friday by attorneys in state Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s office. A spokeswoman for Laxalt, Monica Moazez, declined additional comment Monday about the filings. They included seven volumes of backup material.
Jordan Smith, assistant state solicitor general, wrote that a quick decision is needed from the court because the supply of cisatracurium begins expiring April 1 and the diazepam expires May 1.
Records show that Nevada obtained the drugs last May from its regular pharmaceutical distributor, Cardinal Health. It was not clear if the company knew their intended use. The state has refused pharmaceutical company Pfizer’s demand to return the diazepam and fentanyl it manufactured.
Dozier has been on death row since 2007 for convictions in separate murders in 2002 in Phoenix and Las Vegas.