Double murderer’s execution could be halted
A GARDENER turned stripper due to be executed on Wednesday in the US (Thursday AEST) has told court officials he doesn't care if the lethal cocktail of drugs hurts, he just wants his life to be over.
Scott Dozier, 47, has said there's only so many paintings you can do behind bars.
But despite his protestations to end his imprisonment by way of the execution chamber, the double murderer could yet find himself languishing on death row as a last-minute battle ensues as to whether he can be administered the life-ending drugs.
It is not anti-death penalty campaigners standing between Dozier and his date with death, but a pharmaceutical firm. They want the use of its drugs in the execution to be judged illegal.
Stocks of the drugs commonly used in executions have been dwindling as their producers have refused to supply them to prisons.
So the US prison system has been getting creative, substituting the usual drugs with others that are more readily available but were never designed to be used in executions. It's a move that's been labelled "risky" by critics.
This was the plan for Dozier, who would be the subject of Nevada's first execution in 12 years.
One sedative was to be substituted for another, and prison officials said last week they planned to use two other drugs never before used in executions in any state. The drugs include a powerful synthetic opioid that has been blamed for overdoses nationwide.
The spanner in the works is New Jersey based drug company Alvogen, which is adamant its sedative midazolam was illegally obtained by prison authorities and should not be used as part of the three drug combination to put Dozier to death.
On Tuesday, it filed a lawsuit in an attempt to have its drugs removed from the cocktail.
"Midazolam is not approved for use in such an application," the company has said. Uses of midazolam in other states "have been extremely controversial and have led to widespread concern that prisoners have been exposed to cruel and unusual treatment," Alvogen said.
The company said it "strongly objects to the use of its products in capital punishment" and suspects they were acquired without their true use being declared.
What isn't in dispute is that Dozier is a cold-blooded murderer. He has been convicted and found guilty for killing two men.
Growing up in the state he now wants to die in, Dozier was the son of a landscaper and, when not in the army, helped out at a charity that built homes for the disadvantaged.
He married early and had dreams of becoming a teacher but, instead, found himself working as a stripper at a Las Vegas casino. His primary income came from cooking and selling ice.
As his drug business grew, Dozier's life started spiralling out of control and he soon graduated from living outside the law to murder.
In April 2002, a maintenance worker noticed a "very foul" smell coming from a dumpster at an apartment complex a few kilometres from the Las Vegas strip.
Inside was a suitcase crawling with flies and maggots. The worker opened it up to find a stinking mass of human hair, flesh and a blood-soaked towel.
Authorities were later able to match tattoos on the shoulders of the dismembered corpse to those of Jeremiah Miller, 22, who had been reported missing a week earlier.
Investigators deduced that Dozier had offered to help Mr Miller obtain ingredients to make meth in exchange for US$12,000. But when the young man turned up, Dozier shot him and stole the cash before chopping up his body.
At the trial, the jury were told the body was "mutilated," and the head had been removed. It was never found.
Following his arrest on June 25, 2002, Dozier was connected to another crime, the murder of Jasen "Griffin" Green, whose remains had been found in a plastic container in the desert north of Phoenix a year earlier.
In 2005, Dozier was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing Mr Green. He was then extradited to Nevada to stand trial for the murder of Mr Miller. He was convicted and sentenced to death on October 3, 2007.
The plan for Thursday is to sedate Dozier with midazolam, then administer the opioid fentanyl to slow and perhaps stop his breathing, followed by muscle-paralysing drug cisatracurium.
Dozier has repeatedly said he wants to die and he doesn't particularly care if he suffers.
In November, a judge postponed his execution because of concerns the untried drug regimen could leave him suffocating, conscious and unable to move.
But Dozier was unmoved and wrote in a note to the judge: "I've been very clear about my desire to be executed … even if suffering is inevitable."
He reiterated his wishes to local paper the Reno Review Journal: "Life in prison isn't a life."
There was a limit to how much artwork and exercise a person can do in prison, Dozier said in court hearings and letters last year, according to ABC News in the US.
Drug companies have been blocking the use of their drugs in executions for a decade.
Midazolam, the drug at the centre of the court case that could again postpone Dozier's' death, was substituted in May because prison stocks of Valium had run out.
Pfizer, the global drug giant, has been demanding Nevada authorities return stocks of Valium and a powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl it also produces. But the state has so far refused to do so.
Question marks remain as to whether drug firms can demand their products are not used in executions if states have managed to obtain them.
Alvogen's court case could, once more, hamper Dozier's last wish - to be allowed to die for his bloody crimes.