Death row inmate resolute in quest to be executed next week, but not using Nevada's new drug protocol

Scott Dozier was calm and chatty as he appeared by video in a court here Wednesday — he wanted his execution to go forward next Tuesday with no delays.

“No, I’m not going to change my mind,” he testified. “I am still resolute and steadfast in this, and my primary goal at this juncture is to get this done.”

But there was one complication with his request: The 46-year-old death row inmate said he continued to oppose the state’s plan to kill him using a drug protocol that has never been used in an execution and includes cisatracurium, which paralyzes the body.

The state has not clearly articulated why it wants to use the drug. But other states have been embarrassed in recent years by executions gone wrong, and the paralytic drug would potentially mask spasms or other undesirable effects from the fatal combination of the other two drugs, fentanyl and diazepam. Nevada’s last execution was 11 years ago.

Dozier appeared in jailhouse garb and glasses and engaging in some light banter with Clark County District Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti over his penchant for regularly writing her letters.

The judge pressed the state’s attorneys on whether Nevada had enough of the other two drugs to carry out the execution. Assistant Solicitor General Jordan Smith said it had more than double the necessary amounts to kill Dozier.

There was anticipation that the judge would rule Wednesday on whether Nevada could carry out the execution.

But she said she wouldn’t let the execution proceed before the new protocol was approved by Nevada’s chief medical officer — an official who took the job a week ago after the previous person who held it stepped down.

Smith said the approval was a formality and that the protocol would be signed. Togliatti has asked the lawyers to return to court Thursday at 11 a.m.

Dozier’s attorneys face an unusual situation in that they are fighting for a client who wants to die.

A medical expert testified last week that the execution was at risk for problems because of the new drug protocol and inexperienced personnel. He said the paralytic drug — if not administered correctly — could cause pain and suffering.

Wesley Juhl, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, said the organization has several concerns about using a paralytic drug, including its ability to mask any mistakes.

He said Dozier’s body would be unable to reflexively react to any potential problems during the process — including if the doses of the other drugs were somehow miscalculated.

The new protocol was adopted last month and remains under court seal and unavailable to the public. The execution would be the first in Ely State Prison’s new execution chamber, which was completed last year and cost more than $800,000.

Brooke Keast, spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Corrections, said in an email this week that the “staff is practicing everything" as the execution date looms closer.

Dozier was convicted in 2007 of murdering and dismembering 22-year-old Jeremiah Miller at a Las Vegas motel in 2002. He also was convicted in Arizona 12 years ago for the murder of 26-year-old Jasen Green.

david.montero@latimes.com

Twitter: @davemontero

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