The life of convicted killer Scott Raymond Dozier currently lies in the hands of a very controversial drug.
This week, the state of Nevada plans to be the first US state to carry out an execution using fentanyl, the notorious recreationally-used drug that’s become synonymous with the country’s opioid epidemic.
A hearing will take place on Wednesday, July 11, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. If it gets the go-ahead, Dozier will be dead by 8:30pm later that day.
Fentanyl is a potent and highly-addictive opioid narcotic that is typically used to treat severe chronic pain. Much like heroin and other opioids, fentanyl works by binding to the body's opioid receptors, specialized cells found in the brain, spinal cord, and digestive tract that control pain and emotion. In turn, this triggers the release of endorphins, the naturally occurring “feel good” chemicals that we normally produce after we eat, rest, or do something pleasurable. It also suppresses the brain activity that controls breathing.
In high enough quantities – just a quarter of a milligram – it will depress the respiratory system and slow down the rate of breathing to the extent that the body becomes starved of oxygen.
Nevada wants to use fentanyl in Dozier’s execution because of the national shortage of lethal injection drugs. He will first be injected with midazolam, followed by fentanyl, then a muscle paralyzing drug.
However, the use of this untested technique is causing a big stir.
The Associated Press reports the pharmaceutical company who manufactures the drug midazolam has filed a lawsuit saying their drug is “not approved for use in such an application” and argues that the drugs were illegally obtained. The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada has unleashed some ligation, asking the Nevada Department of Corrections to provide “vital public records” about the upcoming execution.
“It’s dangerous for our state to undertake its first execution in 12 years under these conditions... We are very concerned about the legality of the protocol and the possibility of a botched execution,” ACLU of Nevada Legal Director Amy Rose said in a statement.
Dozier, a 47-year-old meth-dealer, was sentenced to death for the murder of drug associate Jeremiah Miller. After shooting Miller at a Las Vegas motel in 2002, he chopped up the 22-year-old’s body into multiple pieces and stuffed them into a suitcase, which was later discovered in a trash can behind an apartment complex. They were only able to identify the body from tattoos as the head was never found. Police later found another victim of Dozier who was dismembered and buried in the Arizona desert.
Although this particular three-drug method has never been tried before, the condemned man appears remarkably indifferent to his fate. He has waived numerous legal appeals and has expressed a will to be executed as soon as possible.
“I’ve been very clear about my desire to be executed... even if suffering is inevitable,” Dozier said in a handwritten note given to a state court judge who postponed his execution last November.