AG says inmate volunteering to be executed underscores need to resolve lethal injection lawsuits

Nevada News

Death row inmate Kevin Lisle has voluntarily given up his right to appeal and is seeking to be executed, potentially setting up another situation in which Nevada struggles to carry out a death sentence.

The 48-year-old Lisle’s request to drop all further appeals, which was first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, came in the form of a handwritten note that was attached to a court document filed Monday with the Nevada Supreme Court. The state is asking the Nevada Supreme Court to decide soon whether the maker of a drug in the lethal injection combination can block the drug’s use in capital punishment.

Lisle wrote in a letter addressed to the attorney general that he “hereby WAVES [sic] HIS RIGHT TO APPEAL of his own will with the complete and competent understanding that ELY STATE PRISON EXECUTIONERS will put him to death by leathal [sic] means.”

Lisle, 48, was sentenced to death for the August 1994 killing of Justin Lusch, the 19-year-old son of the then-chief of the North Las Vegas Police Department. He was also sentenced to death in the October 1994 murder of Kip Logan, a former Bishop Gorman High School student who was shot to death in an altercation on the U.S. 95 roadway.

“Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) acknowledges the motion of Inmate Lisle,” prison officials said in a statement.

Attorney General Aaron Ford’s office is arguing that the Nevada Supreme Court should take up the state’s appeal of lower court orders restricting the use of lethal injection drugs. The office contended that even though the subject of the original case — inmate Scott Dozier — died by suicide in January, the case is not moot.

“So long as Nevada law provides for capital punishment, there is a likelihood that similar issues as presented in this case will arise in the future,” the attorney general’s office argued.

Some of the state’s supply of lethal injection drugs meant for Dozier has already started expiring, with several packages of the painkiller fentanyl and the paralytic cisatracurium past their expiration dates and others going bad this spring and summer. Ford’s office noted that the last batch of the drug midazolam that the state owns, and that is subject to an injunction, is expected to expire Jan. 30, 2020, and an execution order for Lisle could come before that date.

The office also pointed to the public interest in the viability of executions, noting there are bills pending in the Legislature seeking to abolish capital punishment.

“The Court should not consider the issues presented here moot, especially in light of pending legislation that may alter Nevada’s capital punishment statutes,” the motion said. “The Nevada Legislature’s consideration of legislation that may alter capital punishment statutes reveals the public importance of the issues in this case.”

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