Nebraska executes first inmate using fentanyl - 8/14/2018 12:17:23 PM


After a federal appeals court rejected a pharmaceutical company's attempt to block Moore's execution, the almost four-decade inmate will be put to death using a never-before-used combination of the opioid fentanyl, valium, a muscle relaxant, and a substance that will stop his heart-which anti-death penalty advocate Sister Helen Prejean denounced as "human experimentation". Moore was sentenced to death for shooting two cab drivers in Omaha in 1979.

"We're sick of hearing about Carey Dean Moore", Steve Helgeland, the son of one of Moore's victims, said in advance of the execution. In a dubious milestone, it used the powerful opioid fentanyl, which has played a major role in the opioid epidemic, to help carry out the killing.

The 60-year-old was pronounced dead at 10:47 a.m. (1547 GMT). "I am guilty. They are not", he said.

Last week, German drug maker Fresenius Kabi challenged Moore's execution in court, believing it had been the source of two of the drugs and contending those were improperly acquired.

Moore had been on death row for 38 years and said he did not want further delays. It also marked the first execution of a prisoner in the United States using the painkiller fentanyl, a drug that has fueled an opioid crisis across the country. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 115 people die each day in the USA after overdosing on opioids, including heroin, prescription painkillers and fentanyl. He was the first inmate to be lethally injected in Nebraska, which last carried out an execution in 1997, using the electric chair.

Amid two lawsuits from drug companies to stay the execution, Moore had told his lawyers he wanted to be executed. Witnesses said Moore coughed before dying, but there did not appear to be other complications. Some moderate, Republican lawmakers who previously voiced support for capital punishment but then voted to repeal it lost their seats in the 2016 election after Ricketts endorsed their opponents.

According to prosecutors, Moore was 21 when he fatally shot Reuel Van Ness during a robbery with his younger brother, and used the money to buy drugs and pornography. He had stopped fighting the state's attempts to execute him.

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A federal appeals court upheld that ruling Monday, and Fresenius Kabi decided not to take the issue to the US Supreme Court.

U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf ruled Friday that the company's claim of irreparable injury was speculative and there was no indication the state obtained the drugs through misrepresentation or by circumventing the company's distribution controls. In response, some states have turned to other methods of execution, including nitrogen gas or the firing squad.

The choice of fentanyl for an execution points to a state's desperation to find drugs, experts said.

At the time, Death Penalty Information Center Executive Director Robert Dunham suggested that fentanyl was a odd choice for an execution drug.

"Here we have a state that hasn't executed in a very long time, it's using a four-drug formula, it's the first time the state is using lethal injection", said Deborah W. Denno, a Fordham University law professor and a death-penalty expert.

As rain fell on the penitentiary Tuesday morning, Vivian Tuttle, whose daughter was among five people killed in a Nebraska bank in 2002, stood outside with Pierce County Sheriff Rick Eberhardt.