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Judge bans Nevada prison system from using drug in execution

Judge bans Nevada prison system from using drug in execution
Nevada death row inmate Scott Dozier confers with his attorney during a court appearance in August 2017. (Ken Ritter / Associated Presss)

A judge has banned the Nevada prison system from using its supply of a drug in the lethal injection of a convicted killer.

Nevada District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez wrote late Friday afternoon that state prison officials obtained drug manufacturer Alvogen's sedative midazolam through "subterfuge," and that the purchase was made in "stark contrast" to previous attempts to buy medication for capital punishment, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

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The ban essentially shuts down the possible execution of Scott Dozier for the foreseeable future.

Dozier's execution was halted in July, for the second time in nine months, after Alvogen sued the prison system.

Dozier was sentenced to die in 2007 for first-degree murder and robbery in the killing of Jeremiah Miller. He would be the first prisoner executed in Nevada since 2006.

Nevada's prison director, James Dzurenda, testified this month that he disregarded letters from three drug manufacturers who did not want their medication used in an execution.

Dzurenda acknowledged receiving a memo from Alvogen months before the planned execution of Dozier.

He messaged Linda Fox, pharmacy director for the prisons, about the company's concern. But Dzurenda did not return the sedative — which was obtained through a third party — to Alvogen, as the company requested.

"Text messages between Fox and Dzurenda also support Alvogen's allegation of a scheme," Gonzalez wrote in her decision, ruling that Fox knew the third party had offered midazolam by mistake. "The state did not acquire the Alvogen midazolam product in good faith, and it did so knowing that it violated Alvogen's property rights."

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