Nevada judge may cut paralytic drug from Tuesday execution
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A judge said Wednesday she may cut a paralytic from the state’s previously untried lethal injection plan, after hearing that it could mask movements reflecting awareness and pain by a death-row inmate who volunteered to become the first person executed in Nevada in 11 years.
From the state prison in Ely, where he is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday, Scott Raymond Dozier, 46, told Clark County District Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti one last time that he wants his death sentence carried out.
“I am very clearly, loudly and in the interest of abundant clarity saying, ‘No. I’m not going to change my mind,’” the twice-convicted murderer said by video conference in his final court appearance. “I am still resolute and steadfast in this.”
Dozier is not appealing his death sentence for separate 2002 killings in Las Vegas and Phoenix, but is letting federal public defenders examine how Nevada decided on a three-drug combination that has never been used for lethal injections in any state.
The judge, who on Monday expressed concern about the sudden resignation of Dr. John DiMuro, an anesthesiologist, as the state medical official with responsibility for the execution, noted Wednesday that she didn’t yet have a signed execution protocol from state prisons chief James Dzurenda.
Dr. Leon Ravin, the state psychiatric medical director since 2015, has taken over at least temporarily as the state’s top doctor. Ravin has designated Dr. John Scott, a family practice physician who is also on the state payroll, as attending physician for Dozier’s execution.
The judge responded sharply after Jordan Smith, the state attorney general solicitor on the Dozier case, called signing the protocol “a clerical issue.”
“The execution isn’t going forward without a signed protocol,” she said, and scheduled a Thursday hearing to receive the document.
Togliatti said she was leaning toward cutting the final drug, cisatracurium, from the three-drug cocktail, and noted that she knew the late change might delay the execution if the attorney general appeals her ruling to the Nevada Supreme Court.
Smith said he didn’t know what step state Attorney General Adam Laxalt would take.
For his part, Dozier said he wanted no delay.
“I want to absolutely go through with this on the 14th of November,” the condemned inmate said. “I would request that we do it without the paralytic.”
Togliatti characterized as persuasive testimony she heard last Friday from expert medical witness Dr. David Waisel, who said the paralytic should not be needed if the first two drugs — diazepam and fentanyl — are delivered properly in the lethal amounts listed in the protocol.
Waisel, an associate professor of anesthesia at Harvard University and pediatric anesthesiologist at Childrens Hospital Boston, had been brought to court by David Anthony, a deputy federal public defender representing Dozier.
DiMuro, who left a sworn statement for the court saying his departure had nothing to do with the execution, said Wednesday through his brother and lawyer, Christopher DiMuro, he stands by the lethal injection protocol he prepared.
Christopher DiMuro said his brother, a Reno-area anesthesiologist who became Nevada’s top doctor in July 2016, was assigned by the governor to develop an execution method using drugs that Nevada could obtain.
John DiMuro wouldn’t disagree with Waisel that the paralytic could be unnecessary if the first two drugs are properly delivered at fatal doses, Christopher DiMuro said.
“John is not on one side or another about the death penalty,” the brother said from his home in New Jersey. “He was asked to come up with a protocol that would result in death should the state carry out the death penalty.”