Nebraska resumed capital punishment on Tuesday after a 21-year de facto moratorium, reports the Lincoln Journal Star. Condemned prisoner Carey Dean Moore, who had seven previous execution dates set aside in his 38 years on death row, was pronounced dead at 10:47 a.m. Moore, 60, received the death sentence in 1980 for the 1979 murders of Omaha cab drivers Maynard Helgeland and Reuel Van Ness Jr. The execution was carried out with four lethal injection drugs — diazepam, fentanyl, cisatracurium and potassium chloride. No state had used the drugs in that combination. The execution went forward after a federal appeals court denied the drug company Fresenius Kabi’s request to halt the lethal injection over concerns about whether the drugs were obtained improperly by the state, NPR reports.
After the drugs were administered, Moore’s face “very gradually initially turned slightly red and then turned purple,” said witness Grant Schulte of the Associated Press. Brent Martin of Nebraska Radio Network said the execution took “much longer” than the 13 he witnessed as a reporter in Missouri, which used a three-drug protocol of sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride. He never noticed the change in facial color of an inmate. Outside the Nebraska State Penitentiary, about 20 people gathered to oppose the execution, praying, holding signs and standing quietly. Only a few came to support the execution.