"A monumental day" as Nebraska carries out first execution by lethal injection
Nebraska delivers the gravest of punishments, for the first time executing a condemned inmate by lethal injection.
“It's a monumental day, there's no question it's a significant day in the state's history,” said Joe Duggan of the Omaha World-Herald, one of four media witnesses to the execution.
The state made history inside the walls of the State Penitentiary on a rain-soaked day many thought they would never see.
“I just really thought we would never get to this point,” said witness Brent Martin of the Nebraska Radio Network.
Witnesses noted how the execution was just three years removed from a legislative decision to eliminate capital punishment in the state, followed by a vote of the people to reinstate it.
Scott Frakes, director of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services read a 75 second statement, before departing without taking questions.
“I recognize today's execution impacts many people on many levels. Most certainly the families of Mr. Van Ness, and Mr. Helgeland,” Frakes said, noting Moore’s victims.
39 years after he targeted two Omaha cab drivers, the 60–year–old was dead in about 15 minutes, according to the media witnesses who observed the execution from the start.
Grant Schulte of the Associated Press chronicled the event.
He said, “At 10:24 AM the curtain lifted. Mr. Moore was covered in a white sheet with his left arm extended out and connected to the IV. He turned to his left and mouthed several words to the witnesses, including the words 'I love you.'”
The execution was carefully choreographed. At 10:24 staff members behind a wall administered diazepam into the IV.
Five minutes later, Moore was unconscious.
A total of four drugs were given, the first anywhere for this combination of diazepam, fentanyl citrate, cisatracurium besylate, and potassium chloride.
By 10:31 witnesses say Moore’s chest went still.
“His face gradually turned slightly red, then purple,” Schulte recounted.
Radio reporter Brent Martin witnessed 13 lethal injection executions in Missouri.
He said Nebraska's was more drawn out, but witnesses say Moore appeared not to suffer.
“Didn't appear to be any complications,” witness Chip Matthews said,
Moore's eyes cracked open 13 minutes after the first drug was given.
A minute later, curtains lowered and the coroner came in, pronouncing Moore dead at 10:47 A.M.
He was 60.
Moments before his execution, he provided a brief statement to reporters, one final chance to express himself.
Duggan said, “I would say he was composed. He certainly looked shaken. The gravity of what was happening to him was clear on his face and expression.”
“You always go into it understanding the gravity of the situation. How solemn it is,” Martin said.
The convicted killer's final moments were spent on a gurney, having chosen to accept his punishment.
Moore's body was taken by the Nebraska State Patrol for an autopsy.