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Nevada inmate battles execution for firing squad option

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Convicted killer battling a possible June execution date that would make him the first person to be killed in Nevada in 15 years calls on the state to consider firing squad as an option , a rare method in the United States.

Zane’s attorneys Michael Floyd say he doesn’t want to die and challenge the state’s plan to use a proposed three-drug method, which has led to court challenges that have twice delayed the execution of ‘another convicted killer who then committed suicide in prison.

“This is not a delaying tactic,” said Brad Levenson, a federal public defender representing Floyd on Monday.

But a challenge to the state’s execution protocol forces the defense to provide an alternate method, and Levenson said brainstem gunshots would be “the most humane way.”

“Execution by a firing squad … causes faster and less painful death than lethal injection,” lawyers said in a court filing Friday.

Three US states – Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah – and the US military allow the death penalty by gunfire. The last time this method was used in the United States was in Utah in 2010.

Floyd’s attorneys are asking a federal judge in Las Vegas to prevent Floyd from being executed until prison officials “devise a new procedure or procedures to carry out a legal execution.”

Levenson said he and attorney David Anthony are battling multiple issues in state and federal courts, with the possibility that Floyd’s death will be set for the week of June 7. Prosecutors will seek an execution warrant at a state court hearing next month.

The 45-year-old was convicted in 2000 of killing four people with a shotgun in a Las Vegas supermarket in 1999 and seriously injuring a fifth person.

Floyd appeared to exhaust his federal appeals last November, and the United States Supreme Court declined to hear his case. Floyd wants a chance to seek mercy at a June 22 meeting of the Nevada State Pardon Council, Levenson said.

Floyd’s lawyers argue that a combination of three drugs the state wants to use – the sedative diazepam, the powerful synthetic pain reliever fentanyl, and a paralytic, cisatracurium – would amount to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of its constitutional rights.

Anthony made similar arguments on behalf of Scott Raymond Dozier before Nevada’s last scheduled execution was canceled in 2017 and 2018. Dozier committed suicide in prison in January 2019.

A judge blocked the first date after ruling that the use of the paralytic could cause painful suffocation when Dozier was conscious but unable to move.

The drug companies that made the three drugs have stopped the second date with arguments against using their products in an execution, a problem that several states are facing.

Floyd is said to be the first person to be executed in Nevada since 2006, when Daryl Mack asked to be put to death for his conviction for rape and murder in 1988 in Reno.

Nevada has 72 men awaiting execution, a spokeswoman for the State Department of Prison Affairs said.

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