Nebraska prisons head: State can't buy execution drugs again

Carey Dean Moore (KPTM)

Delaying the execution of a longtime death-row inmate would likely prevent the state from ever carrying out the sentence because officials can't purchase any more of the necessary lethal injection drugs, Nebraska's prisons director acknowledged Thursday.

Corrections Director Scott Frakes said in a sworn statement that the pharmacy that supplied Nebraska's current batch of drugs is unwilling to sell the state any more. He said he has contacted at least 40 potential suppliers in six states, and only the current supplier would provide them.

The affidavit came in response to pharmaceutical company Fresenius Kabi's lawsuit alleging that the state intends to use their drugs improperly. The company strongly opposes the use of its drugs for capital punishment, and claims state officials obtained their product illegally. Frakes said the state procured the drugs lawfully.

A federal judge is expected to rule Friday on whether to temporarily prohibit the state from using the drugs in its possession for the execution of Carey Dean Moore, who was condemned to die for the 1979 murders of two Omaha cab drivers. One of the four drugs in Nebraska's lethal injection protocol expires on Aug. 31, leaving the state unable to carry out the sentence.

An order to temporarily bar the state from using the drugs "would more than likely have the effect of changing Nebraska's final death sentence into a de facto sentence of life in prison for Carey Dean Moore," Frakes said in the affidavit.

But the families of Moore's victims said they're long past ready for his execution.

Moore fatally shot the father of Richelle Van Ness-Doran in 1979. She told the Omaha World-Herald that waiting 38 years for the execution is enough.

"It's just prolonging this," she said. "It's like a slap in our face."

Lori Helgeland-Renken's father also was killed, five days after. She said the months leading up to the scheduled execution have again rekindled the pain and fear she felt after her father's death.

"It's been just exactly like it happened," Helgeland-Renken said. "I've had a lot of anxiety. I've decided I can't change the outcome of anything ... so I just can't be immersed in it."

Moore's execution dates have been repeatedly delayed. He's stopped challenging the state's efforts to execute him, which gives death penalty opponents limited options to stop his lethal injection.

Helgeland-Renken said she'd prefer Moore have his sentence changed to life in prison without parole if the execution is delayed again. That way, he'd be forgotten instead of continuing to surface in legal fights over capital punishment, she said.

Helgeland-Renken's brother, Steve Helgeland, said attention is often focused on the legal battle to execute Moore, but the lives shattered by his crimes must be remembered.

The siblings don't plan on witnessing the execution, and neither does Van Ness-Doran.

"I'm not going to celebrate. There's no point of celebrating," Van Ness-Doran said. "I just want the thought that he is not living there ... and hope to God that no one takes his spot."

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