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Author Topic: (FINALLY) Nebraska becomes the first state to use Fentanyl in an execution  (Read 1828 times)

Offline Chip (OP)

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August 14, 2018

Authorities in Nebraska used the powerful opioid fentanyl in a lethal injection on Tuesday, an unprecedented move that came as the state — where just three years ago lawmakers moved to abolish capital punishment — completed a remarkable reversal and resumed executions for the first time in nearly a generation.

Nebraska experienced a series of firsts on Tuesday morning: the state’s first execution in 21 years, its first lethal injection and the country’s first death sentence carried out with fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller that has helped drive the opioid epidemic. The execution was even more unusual given the state’s very recent history, which saw its legislature vote to abandon the death penalty in 2015 before voters reversed that decision the following year.

At the center of this was Carey Dean Moore, the 60-year-old inmate executed after spending more than half his life on death row. Moore was sentenced to death for killing Reuel Van Ness and Maynard Helgeland, two Omaha cabdrivers, in 1979. He said before his execution that he would not try to stop it, nor did he want anyone to intervene.

[Drug companies don’t want to be involved in executions, so they’re suing to keep their drugs out]

Moore was executed at the state penitentiary in Lincoln, the capital. The execution drew an unusual amount of attention, in large part because authorities chose to utilize fentanyl even as law enforcement officials are aggressively trying to get the potent drug off of the streets and highlighting its role in the ongoing opioid crisis.

The state’s plan called for it to use four drugs in total, two of which prompted a recent lawsuit from a drug company arguing Nebraska was going to use its products and unsuccessfully trying to block Nebraska from using them.

The first drug was injected into Moore at 10:24 a.m. and the coroner announced his time of death at 10:47 a.m., according to Scott R. Frakes, director of Nebraska’s Department of Correctional Services, who read a statement after the execution.

Moore’s case wound its way through the court system for nearly four decades, ever since the August 1979 slayings of Van Ness and Helgeland, both taxi drivers and Korean War veterans. Relatives of the men have said they were ready for an outcome in the case.

“Thirty-eight years has been long enough,” Richelle Van Ness-Doran, Van Ness’s daughter, recently told the Omaha World-Herald. “It’s just prolonging this … it’s like a slap in our face.”

[Nebraska cleared to carry out country’s first fentanyl execution, judge says]

Among the witnesses to Moore’s execution were four people he chose to attend — who included his twin brother, his lawyer said — and four members of the news media.

Moore had faced execution warrants before Tuesday. He also appeared, albeit briefly, to be heading toward a sentence of life in prison when the Nebraska legislature voted to ban the death penalty in 2015.

The move was a dramatic shift for a cherry-red state. Lawmakers voted to override a veto from Gov. Pete Ricketts (R), who sharply criticized the decision. A group with considerable financial backing from Ricketts and his family then pushed to have the issue added to the statewide ballot in 2016, when 60 percent of voters chose to restore capital punishment.

A spokesman for Ricketts did not respond to a request for comment about the execution. Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson’s office said in a statement that the “somber event serves to provide a measure of closure for what has been a lengthy enactment of justice.”

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