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Tennessee execution: Billy Ray Irick tortured to death, expert says in new filing

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Editor's note: Reporter Dave Boucher was one of seven state-required media witnesses at Irick's execution. 
Billy Ray Irick felt searing pain akin to torture before he died in a Tennessee prison in August, but steps taken in carrying out his execution blocked signs of suffering, according to a doctor who reviewed information about the lethal injection.
In new court filings entered late Thursday amidst an ongoing legal challenge of Tennessee’s lethal injection protocol, Dr. David Lubarsky said statements from people who witnessed the execution indicated the controversial drug midazolam failed to ensure Irick could not feel pain during his death.
As a result, the death row inmate “experienced the feeling of choking, drowning in his own fluids, suffocating, being buried alive, and the burning sensation caused by the injection of the potassium chloride,” Lubarsky wrote in the filing.
The document also says the state did not follow its own lethal injection protocol, raising questio…

Las Vegas judge signs Scott Dozier’s execution warrant

Scott Dozier
Scott Dozier could be dead in less than a month.

A judge this week signed an execution warrant for the Nevada death row prisoner, and his lethal injection is scheduled for 8 p.m. July 11.

Last month, the state’s Supreme Court ruled that District Judge Jennifer Togliatti should not have denied the prison system’s planned use of a paralytic drug to execute Dozier.

But an attorney for the Department of Corrections has said that the state’s supply of diazepam, an anxiety drug and one of the three drugs in the lethal injection cocktail, has expired, and it’s unclear whether the prison system has obtained a new drug.

Prison spokeswoman Brooke Santina said Wednesday that “we have what we need to complete the order,” but she did not know which drugs are expected to be used.

One of Dozier’s lawyers, Tom Ericcson, said he did not expect Dozier to pull back on his request to be executed.

“I am not aware of anything else that is going to be done,” Ericsson said. “Scott doesn’t want anything else to be done.”

The Supreme Court stated in its ruling that federal public defenders representing Dozier did not follow the procedure in challenging what they called “cruel and unusual punishment.” Dozier has maintained his desire to die since writing to Togliatti two years ago. The judge said that as of earlier this month, Dozier has maintained that desire, according to online court records.

Assistant Solicitor General Jordan Smith, representing the prison system, told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that under the suggested protocol, which included the paralytic drug cisatracurium, Dozier would not suffer.

In November, Togliatti denied the use of the paralytic and granted a request from the prison’s lawyers to stay the execution as the lethal injection process was reviewed by a higher court.

David Anthony, another lawyer for Dozier, had argued for a two-drug cocktail that did not include the paralytic drug.

Last year, prison officials concocted a three-drug mixture that included the paralytic, diazepam and the pain reliever fentanyl.

Should his wish be carried out, Dozier would be the first inmate executed in Nevada since 2006.

A Clark County jury convicted Dozier in September 2007 of killing 22-year-old Jeremiah Miller at the now-closed La Concha motel. In 2005, Dozier was convicted in Arizona of second-degree murder in another case.

Source: reviewjournal.com, David Ferrara, June 20, 2018


Nevada Is Trying a New Drug to Execute Inmates and Has No Idea How It Will Work


Fentanyl is a powerful painkiller that’s playing a huge role in the opioid crisis. 

death row injection lab
Scott Dozier is scheduled to be executed on July 11. 

In 2016, when the 47-year-old inmate first asked to skip his appeals and be put to death, Nevada didn’t have any execution drugs on hand. 

But last August, the state announced that it would be using a four-drug protocol that includes fentanyl, a powerful painkiller that is playing a huge role in the opioid crisis.

The problem is, medical professionals say it's unclear how the drugs would react together.

Dozier, who has been on death row for more than a decade, was convicted of the 2002 murder of Jeremiah Miller. Dozier told the Marshall Project that he wanted to abandon his appeals because he’d rather die than spend more time in prison.

After several months of legal challenges and hearings, his wish was granted. Now Dozier will likely become the first person in the United States to be executed with fentanyl.

When prison staffers put Dozier to death, they will first use diazepam, a sedative, and fentanyl to render him unconscious, cisatracurium to paralyze the inmate, and finally potassium chloride to stop the heart. 

If the first two drugs aren’t administered properly, the paralytic will render Dozier unable to move or speak to indicate pain. 

FentanylFentanyl was chosen because obtaining lethal injection drugs have become increasingly difficult after drug wholesalers and manufacturers began refusing to sell their products to prisons that planned to use them in lethal injections. 

Nevada legally obtained fentanyl from Cardinal Health, a wholesale distributor. 

The irony of using fentanyl to kill prisoners is not lost on those familiar with capital punishment. “[A]t the same time these state governments are trying to figure out how to stop so many from dying from opioids,” Austin Sarat, a law professor at Amherst College who has studied the death penalty told the Washington Post last year, “they now want to turn and use them to deliberately kill someone.”

Source: Mother Jones, Nathalie Baptiste, June 20, 2018


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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