The execution of Scott Dozier, set for Wednesday night, has been halted after a temporary court injunction in Las Vegas.
The drug company that creates the sedative Midazolam, which was expected to be one of three drugs used in the execution, sued the State of Nevada and the Department of Corrections, claiming Alvogen was misled in what the drug would be used for.
Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez of the Eight Judicial District Court issued a temporary restraining order halting the use of the drug after the company said Nevada obtained it through "subterfuge." According to a statement, the execution "will not take place until further notice."
State prisons spokeswoman Brooke Santina told the Associated Press the postponement was made official after a conference call involving state officials trying to reconcile one judge's order to carry out the execution and another judge's order to stop it.
Dozier was sentenced to death in 2002 after killing and dismembering 22-year-old Jeremiah Miller. Miller's torso was found inside of a suitcase dumped in a trash bin on West Flamingo Road. Police discovered a second victim that they said Dozier had murdered and dismembered, then buried in the Arizona desert.
In court, Alvogen, the drug company, said their reputation would be "seriously harmed" if the drug was allowed to be used in the execution. The state argued that the argument was a last-ditch effort by Alvogen at damage control after it "got pressure from death penalty advocates."
"They claim that this case has nothing to do with the death penalty but in the same breath they argue 'We don't wanna be associated with it,' and the effect of this, let's not kid ourselves, will be to stop an execution that's happening in less than 12 hours," Assistant Solicitor General Jordan Smith said to the court.
Alvogen learned from disclosures made in response to litigation by the Nevada Branch of the American Civil Liberties Union that the department of corrections acquired the drug from Cardinal Health, a distributor, through purchase orders from May 2018 that were to be completed in June 2018, according to the lawsuit. It claimed the department of corrections knew the drug was prohibited for use in executions.
"The Nevada Attorney General's office would prosecute, criminally, any doctor or other private citizen that engaged in this very conduct of trying to acquire drugs that you know and you have been warned you are not to acquire for this purpose. The state would prosecute a private citizen on this. And contrary to the state's belief, the state is just as much bound to the law as is a private citizen," Todd Bice, the Attorney for Alvogen said.
The state had not yet appealed by midday. The state said it would explore whether it could appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court. The state said it would explore whether it could appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court.
Orders on the other two drugs, fentanyl and cisatracurium, were not issued. Dozier's execution at Ely State Prison would be the first in Nevada since 2006.
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