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Dozier says previous suicide attempt stops him from trying again

Updated December 21, 2018 - 6:58 pm

Scott Dozier tried suicide more than 14 years ago.

That’s why the condemned Nevada prisoner, who would rather face execution than live on death row, told the Review-Journal on Friday that he would not make another effort to die by his own hand.

Dozier, who called a Review-Journal reporter twice early Friday, said the 2004 attempt to kill himself first left him in a coma. Then, for 28 days, “I couldn’t roll my own wheelchair.”

Nor could he read or write. “I’ve never been in that physically vulnerable of a state since I was a small child,” he said.

He said he made the attempt after his first of two murder convictions, when he was facing a 22-year prison sentence in Arizona for “a murder I didn’t commit or have anything to do with.” He did not say how he tried to kill himself.

“It wasn’t because I wanted to die. It was just a very logical thing,” Dozier said in one of the calls, each limited by prison rules to 15 minutes. “I’m not walking around with suicidal ideations.”

Sentenced to die

Dozier was sentenced to die in 2007 after his second conviction on first-degree murder and robbery charges in the killing of Jeremiah Miller at the since-demolished La Concha Motel on the Strip. His case could determine the future of the death penalty in Nevada, where a new attorney general who opposes capital punishment takes office next month.

Dozier has declined to discuss the Las Vegas case. Asked about his reference to the Arizona slaying, he would only say “the time for innocence and guilty is long past.”

Twenty-six months ago, Dozier requested his death sentence be carried out, and he’s still waiting.

Defense lawyers earlier this month asked a judge to stop Ely State Prison from sending Dozier to an isolated cell for mental health evaluations, arguing that the treatment was cruel and unusual.

But prison officials said they had no choice but to seclude Dozier after he made repeated suicidal threats and appeared ready to follow through on them.

They assert that I have made these statements that if Nevada doesn’t do it, I would do it myself. I don’t want to be dead. I just would rather be dead than in prison.

Scott Dozier

Dozier denies that is true.

“They assert that I have made these statements that if Nevada doesn’t do it, I would do it myself,” he said. “I don’t want to be dead. I just would rather be dead than in prison.”

A judge in Reno is expected to hear arguments on Dozier’s motion to be released from isolation on Jan. 2.

As lawyers debated the state’s lethal injection protocol in court, twice postponing apparently imminent capital punishment for Dozier, he questioned whether he would ever see the inside of the execution chamber.

“If they think I’m going to quit, I’m not,” he said. “I really, really wish they would have killed me in November 2017.”

Death penalty bills planned

With a wave of Democratic lawmakers shaking up the political makeup of the Nevada Legislature, there are early signs that the state may have executed its last prisoner in 2006.

Two legislators have submitted requests to draft bills regarding the death penalty. Democratic Senator James Ohrenschall and Democratic Assemblyman Ozzie Fumo each have proposals slated for the February 2019 session. Fumo’s request would revise “provisions governing capital punishment,” while Ohrenschall’s request would “abolish capital punishment.”

Neither Ohrenschall nor Fumo could be reached for comment Friday.

Should legislators pull plug on the death penalty, the 48-year-old Dozier would likely have to serve decades more in the maximum security facility.

“If that’s the case,” he said, “I’m going to do some real deep paradigm-shifting internal work.”

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

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