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Nebraska seeks execution date for death row inmate Carey Dean Moore
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Nebraska seeks execution date for death row inmate Carey Dean Moore

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Death row inmate Carey Dean Moore might soon have an execution date, following a request by the Nebraska Attorney General's Office for an execution warrant from the state Supreme Court.

It would be Nebraska's first time carrying out capital punishment since Robert Williams was electrocuted in 1997 for killing three women.

In the motion filed Tuesday, Solicitor General James D. Smith said Moore has no appeals pending.

"The State of Nebraska has a constitutionally acceptable method of carrying out Moore's death sentences by lethal injection, which method is both available and can be carried out by the Director of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services in accordance with the Department's Execution Protocol upon the issuance of an execution warrant," Smith wrote.

On Jan. 19, Prisons Director Scott Frakes notified Moore that diazepam, fentanyl citrate, cisatracurium besylate and potassium chloride would be used and were on hand.

The Nebraska death penalty protocol requires the director to provide notice to the condemned inmate at least 60 days prior to the attorney general’s request to the Nebraska Supreme Court for an execution warrant.

Then, by state law, it's the Supreme Court's duty to establish a date for the enforcement of a death sentence and command the prisons director to proceed.

An execution date is to be set no more than 60 days following the issuance of a warrant.

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Moore, 60, was sentenced to death on two counts of first-degree murder in Douglas County in the 1979 deaths of two Omaha cab drivers, Reuel Van Ness Jr. and Maynard Helgeland. Van Ness was shot during a robbery, with Moore’s younger brother along, and Helgeland was shot three times, Moore has said, just to prove he could take a man's life all by himself.

He is being housed at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution.

Moore has had multiple execution dates, the latest in 2007 and 2011, and all of them have been stayed. Nine months after the 2007 date, execution by electric chair was declared unconstitutional by the Nebraska Supreme Court. Before the June 2011 date, the state's high court issued a stay after Moore's lawyer challenged the purchase of one of the lethal injection drugs to be used and the lethal injection law itself. 

A number of lawsuits currently are working through the courts about the new drugs chosen to carry out capital punishment in Nebraska, including three seeking public records about where the state got the drugs.

Danielle Conrad, executive director of the ACLU of Nebraska, condemned Tuesday’s move, which she called a “rush towards an execution with a four-drug cocktail that has never been utilized in executions, while hiding the source of these drugs in open defiance of our state's strong open-records laws and failing to account for its apparent failure to follow federal law and DEA regulations.”

She said there are multiple pending court and administrative actions and more expected. Conrad said the process needs to play itself out before Nebraska executes a single person.

“While we respect Mr. Moore's decision to stop fighting at this juncture, it is precisely because he is not fighting that our institutions bear extra responsibility to check themselves by ensuring that the laws are followed and that an unlawful and potentially cruel and unusual execution does not take place. Holding a lawless execution would greatly diminish our state,” she said.

Nebraska's 11 death row inmates

Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSpilger.

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Public safety reporter

Lori Pilger is a Norfolk native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been a public safety reporter for the Journal Star since 2005.

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