‘Stripper’ dad on death row, executed next week
SCOTT Raymond Dozier is no ordinary death row prisoner.
The 47-year-old father and landscape gardener-turned-Las Vegas stripper is set to be executed next week in the US state of Nevada with a never-before-used cocktail of drugs.
Compared to most death row prisoners, whose life stories tend to be marked by poverty, mental disability and childhood trauma, this two-time killer had a privileged upbringing.
His father was a self-employed landscaper who worked on federal water projects throughout the American West, and Dozier moved with his parents and two siblings every few years to different suburban enclaves.
He helped his dad in the family business and got involved in Habitat for Humanity, a not-for-profit charity that builds homes for the poor, and had dreams of being a teacher.
Though Dozier rebelled early, selling weed and LSD in high school, he appeared to settle down as a young adult, marrying his high school sweetheart with whom he had a son.
After a brief stint in the military, he worked at a casino in Las Vegas, driving a chariot in a show called "Winds of the Gods."
By his mid-20s, Dozier was working as a stripper and doing landscaping gigs, but his primary income came from cooking and selling ice.
"I liked the idea of living outside the law," he told Mother Jones in January.
As his drug business grew, Dozier's life started spiralling out of control and he soon graduated from simply "living outside the law" to murder.
A DISTURBING DISCOVERY
In April 2002, a maintenance worker noticed a "very foul" smell coming from a dumpster at an apartment complex a few kilometres from the Las Vegas strip.
Inside was a suitcase crawling with flies and maggots. The worker opened it up to find a stinking mass of human hair, flesh and a blood-soaked towel.
Authorities were later able to match tattoos on the shoulders of the dismembered corpse to 22-year-old Jeremiah Miller, who had been reported missing a week earlier.
Investigators later found a witness who claimed to have seen a corpse in Dozier's room.
They deduced that Dozier had offered to help Mr Miller obtain ingredients to make meth in exchange for US$12,000.
When the young man turned up, Dozier shot him and stole the cash before chopping up his body.
"His body was mutilated," a prosecutor told the jury at Dozier's trial.
"His arms were disarticulated at the elbows. His legs were disarticulated at the knees. His head was removed, and he was cut in half."
An informant told police that Dozier had bragged that he had placed Mr Miller's head in a bucket of concrete, though it was never found.
Following his arrest on June 25, 2002, Dozier was connected to another gruesome crime, the murder of Jasen "Griffin" Green, whose remains had been found in a plastic container in the desert north of Phoenix a year earlier.
In 2005 he was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing Mr Green. He was then extradited to Nevada to stand trial for the murder of Mr Miller. He was convicted and sentenced to death on October 3, 2007.
'RISKY' PUNISHMENT FOR DOZIER'S CRIMES
On July 11, Dozier will be put to death by lethal injection - Nevada's first in 12 years - with a new cocktail of drugs labelled "risky" by critics.
One sedative will be substituted for another, and prison officials said on Tuesday they plan to use two other drugs never before used in executions in any state. The drugs include a powerful synthetic opioid that has been blamed for overdoses nationwide.
A revised and redacted death penalty protocol calls for injecting midazolam to sedate Dozier, then administering the opioid fentanyl to slow and perhaps stop his breathing followed by a muscle-paralysing drug called cisatracurium.
The third drug became the focus of a court challenge that postponed Dozier's execution last November, after a state court judge in Las Vegas told prison officials that they could not use it.
Clark County District Judge Jennifer Togliatti ruled after federal public defenders challenging the constitutionality of the execution protocol enlisted a medical expert witness who said the drug could render a person immobile while suffocating, and "mask" signs of struggle or pain.
The state Supreme Court rejected Judge Togliatti's ruling in May on procedural grounds. However, justices did not rule on the constitutionality of a lethal injection method that critics characterise as experimental and risky.
Seizures are a possibility at high doses of fentanyl, said Dr Jonathan Groner, a Columbus, Ohio, surgeon and lethal injection expert. He said the combination of drugs could produce unexpected results.
"In anaesthesia, more is not always better," Dr Groner told the Associated Press.
"Side effects can happen. Extreme doses may cause seizure or other problems. But if a person has enough paralysing agent in their system, you won't be able to tell if they're suffering."
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Nevada filed a protest in state court in Carson City last week, complaining that the protocol hadn't been made public sooner and that there isn't more time to review the safety and legality of the execution plan.
The organisation earlier characterised the plan as less humane than the process used to put down a pet.
The court filing did not seek to delay the execution, but ACLU lawyer Amy Rose said the public deserves to know how the state plans to kill a death-row inmate.
The new execution protocol appears to be an updated version of a procedural plan submitted to Judge Togliatti last September.
The new one, dated June 11, blacks out some details, including times that family members, witnesses and media may arrive at Ely State Prison, around 400km north of Las Vegas.
It substitutes midazolam for expired prison stocks of diazepam, a sedative commonly known as Valium. The plan doubles the number of possible injections of the sedative from four for diazepam to 10 for midazolam.
The scheduled doses and delivery of fentanyl and cisatracurium were not changed.
Dozier has repeatedly said he wants to die and he doesn't really care if he suffers.
He suspended an appeal of his conviction and death sentence, but officials said he could change his mind up to the last minute, or even after the injections start.
Dozier's defence lawyer, Thomas Ericsson, said he knows of no such desire on his client's part. But the lawyer said he would file a request to stay the execution if Dozier asks for it.
That possibility prompted Judge Togliatti to hold a telephone meeting with lawyers for all sides last Thursday, Mr Ericsson said.
The judge is the only official who could stop the execution.
The last execution in Nevada was in 2006, when Daryl Linnie Mack volunteered for lethal injection for his conviction in a 1988 rape and murder in Reno.