University of Nebraska College of Law professor Eric Berger says witness accounts of the execution of Carey Dean Moore prompt some questions.
“Parts of the reports seem somewhat troubling,” Berger tells Nebraska Radio Network. “The fact that his face turned purple and red and the fact that the execution took significantly longer than many other executions; both of those facts I think at least raise some eyebrows.”
Nebraska put Moore to death Tuesday by lethal injection, using a four-drug protocol in the execution chamber at the Nebraska State Penitentiary.
Media witness accounts of the execution (Brent Martin served as one of four media witnesses) describe a change of color in Moore’s complexion, from ashen to red, to finally a purple hue. It was 23 minutes from the beginning of the execution until Moore was pronounced dead. Lethal injection in other states has taken between five and 10 minutes.
Moore had dropped all legal appeals, so no court closely examined the four-drug protocol prior to the execution Tuesday. Though some states might want to follow Nebraska’s example, Berger suspects states deciding to use lethal injection will likely follow the lead of Texas and Missouri, which have gone to one-drug protocols.
Nevada prison officials, who had been blocked by the courts from using the four-drug protocol, have gone before the Nevada Supreme Court to report Nebraska didn’t experience complications in the Moore execution as it continues efforts to use the same protocol.
Berger says state officials proved they could carry out lethal injection, but he adds the four-drug protocol which had never been used by any state warrants closer investigation.
Berger urges the state to turn over all its records, so experts can study them.
“It’s certainly possible that everything went smoothly and humanely, but it’s also possible that it didn’t,” Berger says. “We just don’t have enough information to make that determination.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]