84°F
weather icon Clear

Inmate who wants to die awaits Nevada Supreme Court decision

As a prisoner awaits a decision on his death wish, the Nevada Supreme Court on Tuesday heard arguments on whether the state Department of Corrections should proceed with an untested method of lethal injection.

“It is a very important subject,” Chief Justice Michael Douglas said after more than an hour of statements from Scott Dozier’s federal public defender and attorneys for the state.

David Anthony, a lawyer for the 47-year-old death row inmate who was scheduled to be executed in November and has said he wants to die, argued for a two-drug cocktail that did not include a paralytic drug called cisatracurium, which could mask suffering. Dozier, a twice-convicted murderer, has not wavered from a desire to have his sentence carried out, which he first expressed in a letter to District Judge Jennifer Togliatti in late 2016.

“When we talk about Mr. Dozier and what he wants, there are also larger issues at stake here, which is how are we going to execute people in the state of Nevada,” Anthony said. “And if it’s not humane for us, shouldn’t it be the province of our courts to say whether something is cruel or not? We should have humane executions in this state.”

Last year, prison officials concocted a three-drug mixture that included the paralytic, anxiety drug diazepam and pain reliever fentanyl. While the state’s diazepam has since expired, Assistant Solicitor General Jordan Smith told the Supreme Court that under the suggested protocol, Dozier would not suffer.

“There is no substantial risk here,” Smith said, suggesting that officials could still find the drugs to carry out the execution, without saying how. “When the protocol is carried out as written … Mr. Dozier is not at risk of awareness, air hunger, pain, panic.”

Justice Michael Cherry openly contemplated the sincerity of Dozier’s desire.

“If we approve the three-drug protocol, is he going to withdraw his request to die?” Cherry asked.

Anthony said Dozier has indicated that he would not.

“I don’t want to be played in this by Mr. Dozier or by the attorney general or by the district attorney,” Cherry continued. “I want to know exactly what’s going to happen if we rule in favor of the AG and the district attorney, or we rule in favor of the federal public defender.”

Dozier’s death was postponed after Togliatti denied the use of the paralytic drug and granted a request from the lawyers for the Department of Corrections to stay the execution as the lethal injection process is reviewed by the high court. The justices gave no indication Tuesday when a decision would be made.

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.

Justice Ron Parraguirre pointed out that Dozier has remained steadfast, questioning whether the federal public defender was in conflict with the condemned man.

“It seems you’re looking to the future to set a protocol for future clients, but this client specifically doesn’t want this method challenged from what I understand,” the judge said.

Anthony argued that Dozier wanted a “less painful” death.

“His first priority was his own execution,” the lawyer said. “And his second priority was to find out about the facts, and if he had the preference, he would prefer a humane execution. That has been a consistent position by Mr. Dozier.”

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
'Evangelicals for Trump' event draws hundreds to Las Vegas hotel - VIDEO
Hundreds of President Donald Trump’s supporters packed the Ahern Hotel in Las Vegas for a faith-based campaign event. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak names new DETR director, head of unemployment task force - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak named Elisa Cafferata acting director of Nevada’s Department of Training, Employment and Rehabilitation and announced Barbara Buckley as the leader of a rapid response team on unemployment insurance at a press briefing Thursday afternoon. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak unveils long-term COVID-19 plan with Nevada Health Response team - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Monday a long-term strategy for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in Nevada through a targeted approach. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak: Bars in four counties to stay closed - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak said bars in four counties, including Clark County, will remain closed to help fight COVID-19. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
COVID-19 case reported at Legislature's special session - Video
A person who was inside the Nevada Legislature Building has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, Legislative Counsel Bureau Director Brenda Erdoes said Friday, July 10. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump Pushing for Reopening Schools and In-Person Learning - Video
Donald Trump launched an effort on Wednesday to reopen schools across the United States with in-person learning.
Special session to tackle $1.2B budget deficit in special session Wednesday - VIDEO
Closing the state’s $1.2 billion budget hole will be the prime focus of the upcoming special legislative session that will convene at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Carson City, according to a proclamation issued by Gov. Steve Sisolak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lawmakers to tackle $1.2B budget deficit in special session Wednesday - VIDEO
Closing the state’s $1.2 billion budget hole will be the prime focus of the upcoming special legislative session that will convene at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Carson City, according to a proclamation issued by Gov. Steve Sisolak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County Democratic leaders resign
Several key Clark County Democratic Party leaders have resigned as progressive leadership has swelled in recent months.
Dream Big Nevada celebrates DACA ruling - VIDEO
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday rejected President Donald Trump’s effort to end legal protections under DACA for 650,000 young immigrants. Astrid Silva, founder of Dream Big Nevada, discusses the temporary victory and the next step for Dreamers.
Councilwoman Michele Fiore walks out of city council meeting - Video
Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore walks out of a City Council meeting during public comments.
Mitt Romney marches in Washington, D.C., protest - Video
On Sunday, Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah joined a group of protesters marching through Washington, D.C. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada gyms, bars that do not serve food can reopen Friday - VIDEO
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday evening said Phase 2 of the state’s Nevada United: Roadmap to Recovery will begin on Friday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Rep. Horsford admits to having affair - VIDEO
Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford admitted to having an affair with Gabriela Linder, a former intern for Sen. Harry Reid. Linder detailed her account of the affair in a podcast she called, "Mistress for Congress." (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST