Nevada tells court Nebraska execution had no complications
LAS VEGAS — Prison officials have told the Nevada Supreme Court that witnesses reported no complications during an execution in Nebraska that used some of the same drugs that Nevada wants to use to carry out a death penalty.
Nevada state attorneys, on behalf of state prison officials, said in a Wednesday court filing that media witnesses in Nebraska “reported no complications, only some coughing before Moore stopped moving.”
The document also noted that Nebraska’s four-drug combination included a sedative, the synthetic opioid fentanyl and a muscle paralyzing agent like the one Nevada plans to use.
Robert Dunham at the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C., said Thursday it is too soon to know if the execution Tuesday of 60-year-old killer Carey Dean Moore in Nebraska was trouble-free.
“Witnesses did not see the death itself,” Dunham said, noting that Moore was pronounced dead several minutes after a death chamber blind was lowered.
“I think we have to wait to see what the autopsy results show,” Dunham said.
Nevada prison officials in July proposed substituting the sedative midazolam for expired stocks of another sedative, diazepam, to be followed by fentanyl and the paralytic cisatracurium for the planned execution of twice-convicted killer Scott Raymond Dozier.
Nebraska’s use of diazepam, fentanyl and cisatracurium represented the first use of each in a lethal injection.
In Nebraska, officials also administered a heart-stopping drug, potassium chloride, that is not part of Nevada’s planned three-drug protocol.
Media witnesses including The Associated Press saw Moore take short, gasping breaths that became deeper and more labored. He gradually turned red and then purple as the drugs were administered, and his chest heaved several times before it went still. His eyelids briefly cracked open.
Two pharmaceutical companies want the Nevada high court to let a state court judge decide if prison officials can use their drugs for an execution.
The state wants justices to decide a fast-track appeal.
Dozier, 47, is not challenging his convictions or sentences for drug-related killings in Phoenix and Las Vegas in 2002. He said he wants to die and doesn’t care if it’s painful.
His executions were called off in November and July amid legal arguments over the products the state decided to use after having trouble obtaining lethal drugs for the state’s first execution in 12 years.