The state of Nebraska executed Carey Dean Moore on Tuesday using an untested drug cocktail that experts had warned could make Moore feel like he is being “burned alive from the inside.”
The cocktail of drugs included a sedative, a muscle relaxer, potassium chloride, and fentanyl, an opioid at least 30 times stronger than heroin, which has been responsible for tens of thousands of overdose deaths in recent years.
Law professor and lethal injection expert Eric Berger wrote in the Omaha World-Herald earlier this year that if the person being executed is not properly sedated, the potassium chloride would cause “excruciating pain akin to being burned alive from the inside.”
“Nobody disputes that the injection of potassium chloride alone would violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment,” Berger wrote, adding that even if the person is in extreme pain, the muscle relaxer could make it look peaceful.
A lawyer for the drug company behind the paralytic in the drug cocktail has also argued that if the pharmaceutical is not stored at the proper temperature, it may not work properly.
Moore had been on death row for 38 years for the murders of two cab drivers in 1979. According to the World-Herald, he said he is ready to die and did not want his execution halted.
On Monday, however, the ACLU filed a motion challenging the state’s authority to carry out the execution, the first ever in Nebraska by lethal injection. Authorities in the state refused to disclose from where they obtained the drugs used to put him to death.
The execution came just four days after the state of Tennessee executed a man using different controversial drug cocktail. Reporters in attendance there said the condemned man, Billy Ray Irick, turned purple and choked as he was dying.
Last December, a report from the Death Penalty Information Center concluded that there was significant evidence of mental illness, brain damage, intellectual disability, severe trauma, or possible innocence in nearly 90 percent of capital punishment executions in the United States.
Additionally, the report found that five of the 23 people executed by the state in 2017 received “glaringly deficient legal representation” or were denied substantial judicial review.
This story was updated following Moore’s execution.