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Nevada Execution Blocked After Company Objects To Use Of Its Drug
A Nevada judge effectively put the execution of a two-time killer on hold Wednesday after a pharmaceutical company objected to the use of one of its drugs to put someone to death.
Clark County District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez disallowed the use of the drug in a ruling that came down less than nine hours before Scott Raymond Dozier, 47, was to be executed with a three-chemical injection never before tried in the U.S.
Nevada prisons spokeswoman Brooke Santina had no immediate comment. State officials could appeal right away to the Nevada Supreme Court.
New Jersey-based Alvogen had urged the judge to block the use of its sedative midazolam, saying the state illegally secured the product through "subterfuge" and intended it for unapproved purposes. 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.
Todd Bice, an attorney with Alvogen, accused the state of deceptively obtaining the drug by having it shipped to a pharmacy in Las Vegas rather than the state prison in Ely. He said Alvogen had sent a letter to state officials in April telling them it opposes the use of its products in executions, particularly midazolam.
The judge ruled that based on that letter, Alvogen had a reasonable chance of winning its lawsuit, and she issued the temporary restraining order against the use of the drug. Gonzalez set another hearing for Sept. 10.
In court papers, Alvogen also cited instances in Alabama, Arizona and Oklahoma in the past few years in which inmates given midazolam were left gasping or snorting, appeared to regain consciousness or took an unusually long time to die.
It was the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada that sued and forced the state to release details about where it obtained its execution drugs.
For all the maneuvering on his behalf, Dozier, who attempted suicide in the past, has said he prefers execution to life behind bars.
"Life in prison isn't a life," the Army veteran and methamphetamine user and dealer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal recently. In court hearings and letters, he said there is a limit to how much artwork and exercise a person can do in prison.
Dozier was sentenced to death in 2007 for robbing, killing and dismembering 22-year-old Jeremiah Miller at a Las Vegas motel in 2002. Miller had come to Nevada to buy ingredients to make meth. His decapitated torso was found in a suitcase.
In 2005, Dozier was sentenced to 22 years in prison for shooting to death another drug-trade associate, whose body was found in 2002 in a shallow grave outside Phoenix. A witness testified Dozier used a sledgehammer to break the victim's limbs so the corpse would fit in a plastic storage container.
Though Dozier dropped attempts to save his own life, he allowed federal public defenders to challenge the execution protocol. They argued that the untried three-drug combination would be less humane than putting down a pet.
Nevada's last execution was in 2006.