Double murderer's execution could be halted

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

A condemned killer who had given up on any further appeals as he awaited execution in Nevada on Wednesday received an 11th-hour reprieve after a pharmaceutical company sued to block the use of one of its drugs in the lethal injection process.

Alvogen claims in court papers that the drug was obtained by state officials through subterfuge, including the misuse of the Nevada chief medical officer's licence to buy controlled medications that were then illegally diverted for use in the execution chamber.

But the ruling by Clark County District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez, and the stay that followed from Judge Jennifer Togliatti, left uncertain when his execution could proceed.

The Alvogen challenge in Nevada carried echoes of a drug distributor's attempts a year ago to have courts block Arkansas from using a chemical it sold in a planned series of executions.

This undated Nevada Department of Corrections photo shows death row inmate Scott Raymond Dozier.

Not so in this case, as double murderer Scott Dozier-convicted of second-degree murder in 2005 and first-degree murder in 2007-accepts his fate and says he wants to die. Last year, Dozier dropped his death penalty appeals and asked to be executed.

The execution plan for Dozier was revised last month to substitute midazolam for expired prison stocks of diazepam, a sedative commonly known as Valium that the state previously slated as the first drug in the lethal injection protocol.

If the judge allows the state to move forward with Dozier's execution, he would be the first inmate put to death in Nevada in more than a decade. She said the governor had planned to be in Carson City at the time of the execution Gonzalez set a status hearing for September 10. Santina said she could not comment on that accusation.

Todd Bice, an attorney for Alvogen, said the company had sent a letter to state officials in April telling them it opposes the use of midazolam in executions.

This is the second lawsuit of its kind in the USA from a pharmaceutical company, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which tracks data about the death penalty and has criticized the way capital punishment is administered in America.

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At the time of the trial, Dozier was already serving a 22-year sentence in Arizona for killing and dismembering 26-year-old Jasen Green in another drug-related murder.

Lawyers for Alvogen alleged that Nevada officials acquired Alvogen medicines "illicitly and through subterfuge", in the process violating state laws meant to tackle the opioid epidemic and prevent the misuse of unsafe drugs.

In 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that the use of midazolam in lethal injections is not a violation of the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Nevada's last execution was in 2006.

Todd Bice, an attorney representing Alvogen said the company's lawsuit was not about the constitutionality of the death penalty nor whether Dozier deserved the death penalty - it had exclusively to do with business. "Several attempts have been characterized by media as "botched" executions".

The manufacturers of the other two unapproved drugs the state intends to use have also objected to Nevada's plans, though they're not formally a part of Alvogen's suit. But the state refused. The drugs include a powerful synthetic opioid that has been blamed for overdoses nationwide.

"Life in prison isn't a life", the 47-year-old inmate told the Review-Journal.

There was a limit to how much artwork and exercise a person can do in prison, Dozier said in court hearings and letters previous year, according to ABC News in the US. His decapitated torso was found in a suitcase in an apartment building trash bin, also missing lower legs and hands. A witness testified that Dozier used a sledgehammer to break Greene's limbs so the corpse would fit in a plastic tote that Dozier used to transport methamphetamine, equipment and chemicals.

They argued that the untried three-drug combination would be less humane than putting down a pet.

Investigators deduced that Dozier had offered to help Mr Miller obtain ingredients to make meth in exchange for US$12,000.

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