Zane Floyd (courtesy Nevada Department of Corrections)
An inmate sits on death row in Nevada awaiting execution in a unique way, with a combination of lethal drugs never before used for that purpose. But believe it or not, if carried out, this would not be the first time the Silver State has made death penalty history.
The inmate is Zane Floyd, 45. He was convicted of murdering four workers at a Las Vegas supermarket in 1999. His videotaped confession was played in court–along with store video of his acts. It took a jury barely two hours to convict him of four counts of first-degree murder and various other charges, including an earlier sexual assault.
The Nevada Supreme Court upheld his conviction and sentence way back in 2002. Floyd’s appeals now have been exhausted. With the support of Gov. Steve Sisolak, the Nevada legislature just scuttled an effort to abolish the death penalty in Nevada, maybe Floyd’s last hope.
But the Nevada Department of Corrections has been having problems finding drugs to use in the execution, which is now scheduled for next month. Officials recently told a court a four-drug cocktail, including some alternatives, would be used. One drug for sure would be ketamine, an anesthetic. Floyd’s lawyers say ketamine never has been used in an American execution and thus would be part of a never-before-used protocol. They say it could lead to “excessive secretions from the mouth” and vomiting while generating burning sensation in Floyd’s veins and lungs leading to “unconstitutional pain and suffering” despite the Eighth Amendment prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishment.” They are pushing for a firing squad, saying death would be instantaneous.
The rest of this post mostly repeats word-for-word what I wrote in this space in 2018 involving another impending Nevada unique drug-combo execution case, that of double murderer Scott Dozier. Unlike Floyd, Dozier wanted to die. Fed up with delays caused by lawyers he tried to fire, Dozier eventually cheated the executioner by hanging himself in his death row cell at the Ely State Prison.
As someone New To Las Vegas, I think it can be fairly debated whether a thinly populated, minimal government desert state like Nevada has the expertise and competence to pull off a humane execution using an untested process, in this case the specific drug combo. But astonishingly, this wouldn’t be the first time that Nevada has ventured down this Brave New World path.
You see, Nevada was the first jurisdiction in the entire world to execute a condemned prisoner in a gas chamber. That was nearly a century ago in 1924. The state somewhat botched the first attempt. There are lessons here. Continue reading
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