Gov. Pete Ricketts is satisfied with how the Department of Correctional Services carried out the first execution in Nebraska since 1997 and the first using lethal injection.
Ricketts says corrections officials did their duty in the execution of Carey Dean Moore August 14th.
“Department of Corrections carried out the execution professionally and treated everybody with dignity. They did their jobs. I was satisfied with the way they handled it,” Ricketts tells Nebraska Radio Network in an interview in his office.
Ricketts defends the Department of Correctional Services against the harshest criticism levelled against the state in the aftermath of the Moore execution. Critics charge the state failed to be transparent, because it lowered the curtain in the execution chamber for 14 minutes, blocking the view of state witnesses.
Ricketts says the department simply followed past practice, lowering the curtain so the county coroner and any other member of the execution team could enter the chamber, examine the body, and pronounce the condemned inmate dead while preserving their anonymity. Once the coroner left the chamber, the curtain was raised.
Corrections officials confirm they followed the past practice used with the electric chair. The curtain went up once the inmate was secured. It lowered after the lethal electric shock went through the chair, so the coroner could enter the chamber, examine the body, and pronounce death.
Department of Correctional Services Chief of Staff Dawn-Renee Smith says that in the Moore execution, Corrections Director Scott Frakes ordered the curtains lowered and waited five minutes to call in the coroner. Once the coroner pronounced Moore dead and left the chamber, he ordered the curtain raised.
Moore could be the last execution carried out in Nebraska, at least for a while.
The state used the four-drug protocol of diazepam, fentanyl citrate, cisatracurium besylate, and potassium chloride to execute Moore.
The state supply of potassium chloride expired August 31st.
It has become more and more difficult for states to obtain lethal injection drugs as pharmaceutical companies have refused to sell them for use in executions.
Ricketts says his administration will attempt to obtain the drugs needed to carry out future executions.
“The court has ordered these sentences and the people of Nebraska have spoken overwhelmingly that they want to see capital punishment in our state to protect the public safety, and so our duty in state government is to figure out ways to be able to do that,” Ricketts says. “So, we’re going to continue to seek those ways to carry out these sentences.”
Moore was sentenced to death for the 1979 killings of Omaha cab drivers Reuel Van Ness, Jr. and Maynard Helgeland.
The Moore execution on August 14th began at 10:24am. Officials lowered the curtain at 10:39am as the Lancaster County Coroner entered the chamber and examined the body to determine death. The curtain was raised at 10:53am and closed for the final time at 10:54am.
Moore was the first condemned inmate to be executed since 1997, when Robert Williams was strapped to the electric chair and executed for the 1977 murders of two Lincoln women: Catherine Brooks and Patricia McGarry.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]