Nebraska Executes Carey Dean Moore, First State Execution Since 1997

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Nebraska executed Carey Dean Moore on Tuesday. It was the state’s first execution since 1997 and the first by lethal injection, reports the Omaha World-Herald. The execution went forward after a federal appeals court denied a drug company’s request to halt the lethal injection over concerns about whether the drugs were obtained improperly by the state, NPR reports.

Moore’s execution was scheduled to be the first time the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl was used in a U.S. lethal injection. Moore, who has been in prison since 1980 after he was convicted of two first degree murders, has not challenged the execution protocol. He’s had seven other execution dates before this one.

The primary legal challenge was from German pharmaceutical company Fresenius Kabi, which makes potassium chloride and cisatracurium besylate, two of the four drugs in the protocol. An increasing number of pharmaceutical companies have taken legal action against states using their products in executions, which has made it difficult for states to obtain the drugs.

The state has not disclosed its supplier. Fresenius Kabi said it has “grounds to believe” that Nebraska is using their drugs. U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf said the company’s claim that the drug’s use would cause it “irreparable injury” was “far too speculative.”

Nebraska said it contacted at least forty potential suppliers and six other states to find the drugs used in the execution.

An unidentified supplier was the only one willing to sell Nebraska the drugs. One of the substances expires on Aug. 31. Nebraska had argued that any delay could render it unable to carry out executions indefinitely.

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