LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) -- Nebraska carried out its first execution since 1997 on Tuesday. Carey Dean Moore was executed Tuesday morning for the 1979 shooting deaths of two Omaha cab drivers.
Officials said at around 9:15 a.m. Moore was read an execution order. At 10 a.m. the Nebraska Attorney General’s office checked for any last minute legal matters that would’ve prevented the execution.
Moore spoke briefly to the media referring to a written statement. When asked if he had any statements, Moore replied, "Just the statement that I hand-delivered to you already about my brother Donnie and the innocent men on Nebraska's death row. That's all that I have to say."
Moore was escorted into the room in shackles and surrounded by four correctional officers. He was strapped to the table. IV lines were inserted and a heart monitor was attached.
Ten witnesses were then escorted into the viewing room. Moore mouthed the words, "I love you" to his four witnesses.
Officials said Valium was administered at 10:24 a.m. A wall prevented witnesses from seeing who was administering the drugs. Fentanyl citrate was administered next. Cisatracurium besylate was administered to induce paralysis and halt Moore’s breathing. Potassium chloride was given to Moore to stop his heart.
The Lancaster County coroner called the time of death at 10:47 a.m. State officials announced the execution was complete at 10:57 a.m.
Carey Dean Moore
Carey Dean Moore was sentenced to death in 1980 for killing two cab drivers five days apart in 1979. The victims were Reuel Van Ness, Jr. and Maynard Helgeland.
Carey Dean Moore's brother Donald was also convicted of killing one of the cab drivers. However, Donald Moore was convicted of second degree murder. He was released on parole in April 1998.
Over the years, the state set an execution date in the electric chair seven different times for Moore. The courts stepped in and stopped it every time.
In 2007 the Nebraska Supreme Court issued a stay for Moore's execution to examine the state’s new lethal injection protocol. At the time, Nebraska had a three-drug cocktail which was being challenged. This was after Nebraska bought one of the drugs in India. The maker of that drug did not want it to be used in executions but to cure people, so it was taken off the market.
Moore had been on death row for 38 years – longer than anyone else in the U.S.
Lethal Injection Drugs
Moore was executed with a combination of four drugs: the sedative diazepam, commonly known as Valium, to render him unconscious; fentanyl citrate, a powerful synthetic opioid; cisatracurium besylate to induce paralysis and halt his breathing; and potassium chloride to stop his heart.
This is the first U.S. execution to use this combination of drugs.
Nebraska state officials have refused to identify the source of their execution drugs. A state judge in Nebraska ordered prison officials in June to release documents that might reveal the source of the drugs, but the state has appealed that ruling.
The state said that one of its protocol drugs expires on Aug. 31, which will leave the state with no way to carry out future executions.
In an affidavit filed last Thursday, Department of Correctional Services Director Scott Frakes said he contacted at least 40 suppliers in six states and found only one that agreed to provide his agency with the necessary drugs. But that supplier is unwilling to sell them any more of its drugs, Frakes said.
2018 Drug Maker Lawsuit and Appeals
A German pharmaceutical manufacturer attempted to prevent Nebraska from using its drugs to execute Moore. The drug company, Fresenius Kabi, filed a lawsuit last week accusing Nebraska prison officials of improperly obtaining its drugs for lethal injections. The company said it doesn't want its drugs used in executions.
But on Monday the German pharmaceutical company announced it wouldn't ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene after losing an appeal in district court.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kopf's conclusion that postponing the execution would frustrate the state's interest in carrying out the execution. Kopf said granting the drug company’s request would “frustrate the will of the people,” referring to the 61 percent of Nebraska voters who chose to reinstate capital punishment in 2016 after lawmakers abolished it.
“I will not allow the plaintiff to frustrate the wishes of Mr. Moore and the laws of the state of Nebraska,” Kopf said during the hearing.
Fresenius Kabi argues that it manufactured the state’s supply of potassium chloride and possibly the cisatracurium.
Fresenius Kabi alleges the state’s supply of potassium chloride is stored in 30 milliliter bottles. Fresenius Kabi said it’s the only company that packages the drug in vials of that size.
Fresenius Kabi argued Nebraska’s use of its drugs would damage its reputation and business relationships.
State attorneys denied Fresenius Kabi’s allegation that prison officials obtained the drugs illicitly.
Assistant Attorney General Ryan Post said in court Friday that the state’s interest in carrying out the execution outweighs the company’s desire to protect its reputation. Post noted that the state still has not revealed its supplier, arguing that Fresenius Kabi could have remained anonymous by not filing the lawsuit.
“The plaintiff stepped right into the spotlight, and they’re complaining about it,” he said.
Nebraska’s Death Penalty
Before Moore’s execution, Nebraska had not executed an inmate since 1997. Robert Williams killed Catherine Brooks and Patricia McGarry. Williams died by the electric chair. John Joubert was executed in 1996 for the deaths of Danny Eberle and Christopher Walden. In 1994, Harold Lamont “Walking Willi” Otey was the first person to die in Nebraska's electric chair since Charles Starkweather was executed in 1959. Otey was sentenced to death in the killing of Jane McManus.
The state has since adopted a lethal injection protocol but has struggled to carry out executions because of legal challenges and difficulties in obtaining the necessary drugs.
State lawmakers abolished capital punishment in 2015, overriding Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto, but voters reinstated the death penalty the following year through a petition drive partially financed by the governor.
Nebraska's corrections department changed its lethal injection protocol in 2017 after years of failed attempts to obtain the necessary drugs.
There are currently 11 people on death row in Nebraska.
Death Penalty Opponents
Death penalty opponents gathered more than 60,000 signatures ahead of Moore’s execution. Organizers submitted the petition to Ricketts on Monday after several last-ditch legal efforts failed to halt the execution.
Death penalty opponents say the execution runs afoul of the Catholic Church's recent statement that capital punishment is unacceptable in all cases. Ricketts has argued he's carrying out the will of voters who chose to reinstate capital punishment after the Legislature abolished it in 2015.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska asked the state Supreme Court to delay Moore's execution. The ACLU filed the request Monday, saying the execution should be delayed until the court hears arguments in a separate case focused on the Legislature's 2015 vote to abolish capital punishment.
The ACLU argued that even though the 2015 law was later undone by voters, the law changed death-row inmates' sentence to life in prison. The organization represents eight Nebraska inmates on death row. But Carey Dean Moore was not one of those inmates.