Nebraska carries out lethal injection with 4-drug cocktail

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The 60-year-old had been sentenced to death for killing two cab drivers in Omaha in 1979.

Another pharmaceutical company, Sandoz, requested last week that Nebraska reveal who made the drugs it would use to execute Moore.

Moore was one of the nation's longest-serving death row inmates. "I am guilty. They are not", he said. He also drew attention to the plight of innocent men on death row.

His execution marked the first time any state has used fentanyl in a lethal injection. The governor, a wealthy former businessman, has said he was fulfilling the wishes of voters in the conservative state.

Moore has faced execution dates set by the Nebraska Supreme Court seven times since conviction, but each was delayed because of legal challenges and questions over whether previous lethal injection drugs were purchased legally.

Robert Dunham, director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said the new procedure was an indication of the trouble states are having in acquiring death penalty drugs.

Witnesses said there appeared to be no complications in the execution process, which also was the first time a state used four drugs in combination.

The protocol consists of the sedative diazepam to render unconsciousness, the painkiller fentanyl citrate, the muscle relaxer cisatracurium to stop an inmate's breathing, and, finally, potassium chloride to stop the heart.

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A double murderer became the first American to be executed by an untested cocktail of drugs including one responsible for the country's epidemic of opioid deaths.

Synthetic opioids surpassed prescription opioids as the leading cause of overdoses in 2016, largely due to fentanyl, according to the federal government.

After each injection in Moore's execution, prison officials sent saline through the IV to flush out any residue and ensure all the drugs had entered his system.

In court documents, the company said it does not take a position on capital punishment but worries that the use of what it believes to be its products in executions could do damage to its "reputation, goodwill, and business relationships". The state had noted that one of its execution drugs was set to expire on August 31 and that prison officials wouldn't be able to purchase more.

A German pharmaceutical company tried to block the execution by alleging the state had illicitly obtained at least one of its drugs. Judges ruled in favor of the state, allowing the execution to go through.

But a federal judge sided with state lawyers, who argued that the public's interest in carrying out a lawful execution outweighed the company's concerns.

Moore was executed Tuesday with a combination of four drugs that had never been used before in an execution in the United States, including the powerful opioid fentanyl. Nebraska said it obtained the drugs through a licensed pharmacy. Three years after Nebraska lawmakers voted to abolish capital punishment, the state is preparing to carry out its first execution since 1997 on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018, in an about-face driven largely by Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts who helped finance a ballot drive to reinstate the punishment after lawmakers overrode his veto and abolished the punishment in 2015.

The light turnout stands in contrast to the 1994 execution of Harold Lamont Otey, when more than 1,000 people created a raucous, party-like atmosphere.

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