Nebraska conducts first US execution with crisis opioid drug fentanyl

Carey Dean Moore

Fentanyl, which has never before been used in an execution in USA, has moved to the center of the ongoing opioid crisis which has decimated communities across the country in recent years.

Moore was killed by lethal injection, using a combination of four drugs never used before in an execution.

He was convicted in 1979 for the murder of two cabdrivers in Omaha.

"We're sick of hearing about Carey Dean Moore", Steve Helgeland, the son of one of Moore's victims, said ahead of the execution.

"We could see him mouthing some words toward his witnesses, it was clear he said I love you several times", witness Brent Martin of Nebraska Radio Network said at a news conference after the death, KLKN-TV in Lincoln, Nebraska, reports.

Moore's execution comes a little more than three years after Nebraska lawmakers abolished the death penalty, only to have it reinstated the following year through a citizen ballot drive partially financed by Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts.

The witnesses said there did not appear to be any complications with the execution.

The Department of Correctional Services administered the first of the four drugs in the state's lethal injection protocol at 10:24 a.m. Moore was declared dead at 10:47 a.m.

"I am terribly sorry", Moore wrote.

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Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska filed a motion to delay Moore's execution on behalf of eight death row inmates, KETV-TV, in Omaha, Nebraska, reports. Previous executions used the electric chair.

The cocktail used in the execution Tuesday also included diazepam, a tranquilizer; potassium chloride, which stops the heart; and cisatracurium besylate, a muscle relaxant.

Moore fatally shot Maynard Helgeland by himself five days later, saying he wanted to prove he could take a man's life by himself. Moore was convicted of first-degree murder, while his brother was convicted of second-degree murder.

Moore released a "last statement", where he apologized to his brother, Donald, who was with him during his first murder.

Ten people witnessed Moore's death, four being members of the Nebraska media, two Nebraska Department of Corrections staffers, a clergyman, and three witnesses of Moore's choosing.

"There was a point in my life when I probably would have pulled the switch myself, but 39 years has a way of dissipating your anger", he said.

German pharmaceutical manufacturer Fresenius Kabi had failed to get a legal injunction against the use of two of its drugs in the fatal cocktail, arguing unsuccessfully that Nebraska obtained them illegally and their misuse could lead to a botched execution. A federal judge refused to stall the execution.

After Nebraska legislators overrode Ricketts' veto to outlaw the death penalty in 2015, he responded by personally investing money in a referendum to restore the death penalty, which passed the following year.

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 judge also noted that Moore had stopped fighting the state's efforts to execute him.

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