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Moore Lawyer Presses State

By: Paul Hammel /Omaha World Herald | Wednesday, August 17, 2011

LINCOLN — The attorney for condemned murderer Carey Dean Moore wants to question Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning and other state officials about their knowledge of the state’s problems in obtaining a key lethal-injection drug.

Last month, it was revealed that the state did not possess a usable supply of sodium thiopental to carry out an execution, even though it continued to press the State Supreme Court for a date for Moore’s execution.

The state sought and obtained from the Supreme Court a June 14 execution for Moore, despite discovering 10 days earlier that its supply of sodium thiopental was purchased illegally from a firm in India.

Moore — sentenced to die for the slayings of two Omaha cab drivers in 1979 — has said the state’s actions amounted to unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment by engaging in a “sham execution.”

In a filing this week in Douglas County District Court, Moore’s attorney, Jerry Soucie, said state officials have continued to “stonewall” his attempts to discover what they knew about the problems and whether the state was seeking an alternative supply.

Nebraska had purchased the powerful sedative — the first of three drugs administered in a lethal-injection execution — from a supplier in Mumbai, India. But the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration told the state in April that it lacked the proper licenses to import the drug and that the supplier, Kayem Pharmaceuticals, was not a registered exporter.

The DEA, according to court documents, told the state it would receive a “letter of admonition” for its missteps and asked the state to show that the drugs had been destroyed.

Officials with the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office have said they did not think it was necessary to inform the Supreme Court of the state’s problems with the lethal-injection drug. They also said they were confident that they could have obtained an alternative supply by the scheduled June 14 execution.

The court stayed Moore’s execution over questions about the drug from India.

If Moore’s death sentence were eventually carried out, it would be the first execution in Nebraska since the state adopted lethal injection in 2009 to replace death in the electric chair.

Moore’s motion seeks interviews with State Corrections Director Bob Houston and two members of his staff, in addition to Bruning and two attorneys in his office.

Soucie alleged in his motion this week that Bruning had made “clearly inaccurate, incomplete, and misleading” statements about the state’s attempts to execute Moore when he spoke in a June 22 interview on a Lincoln radio station.

Bruning, according to court records, said in the interview that he was frustrated so much time had been spent to ensure that Moore “can die comfortably.”

The attorney general also questioned the power of the federal DEA to deny the state’s use of the sodium thiopental from India. “We’re a state. We’re a sovereign. We don’t report to them,” Bruning said.

He said that Soucie’s job was to “delay and stop executions at all costs” and that his job was to ensure “that justice occurs.”

Spokeswomen from the Attorney General’s Office and the Corrections Department declined to comment Tuesday.

Since the revelations a month ago, the state has obtained the proper import permits to obtain sodium thiopental overseas but has yet to find a new supplier. The supply from India has not been destroyed or turned over to the DEA, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

U.S. sources quit making the drug last year, causing a shortage that forced some states to delay executions, look overseas for suppliers, or switch to different sedatives.


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