Nevada will carry out its first execution in more than a decade following a unanimous vote by the state’s Supreme Court Thursday (May 10). The court decision overturned a District Court ruling stalling the execution of 47-year-old Scott Raymond Dozier, amid questions over the use of an experimental lethal injection cocktail.
The drug mixture -- which contains the sedative diazepam (commonly known as valium), the popular opioid fentanyl, and the paralytic cisatracurium -- has never been used before. A federal public defender for Dozier argued that cisatracurium could cause him unnecessary suffering.
Similarly, the American Civil Liberties Union described the execution as potentially “torturous” and raised questions last year, over Nevada prison officials' refusal to release details of its execution protocol, including dosage amounts.
Furthermore, the ACLU questioned prison staff's preparedness to administer the lethal injection cocktail, and whether Dozier will be be awake or sedated as he is being “paralyzed to death.”
“The state’s admission in court that it plans to use a paralytic drug to kill an inmate for the first time in the U.S. takes ‘unusual punishment’ to a new level. And with so much secrecy around the execution plan, which has not been finalized, how can Nevadans even know simple facts such as whether the prison staff will be adequately trained to implement this experimental execution cocktail in a constitutional manner?” ACLU of Nevada Legal Director Amy Rose said in a statement last fall, ahead of Dozier’s planned execution, which was halted by court order.
Dozier, who was convicted of two murders in Nevada and Arizona, waved his right to an appeal in hopes of speeding up his execution. He has been on death row for over a decade.
The first conviction came for the 2002 murder of 22-year-old Jeremiah Miller whose body was found chopped up inside of a suitcase in an apartment dumpster in Las Vegas. Dozier killed Miller and robbed him of $12,000 after luring him to a motel under the pretense that he would help him buy ingredients to make methamphetamine.
Dozier was also linked to the 2001 murder of 22-year-old Jasen Green whose remains were found in a plastic container in the north Phoenix desert. Dozier denies killing Green.
In an interview with The Marshall Project published in January, Dozier said that he doesn’t “want to die” but would “rather be dead” than in prison. He's also not looking for sympathy. “Nevada said stop behaving this way or we will kill you, and I kept behaving that way,” he said.
Nevada has executed a dozen people in the last 40 years, the last of which was Daryl Linnie Mack, a convicting murderer and rapist. Mack was the first black man to be executed by the state since the U.S. granted capital punishment in 1976.