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The Nebraska Supreme Court has set an execution date of Aug. 14 for condemned prisoner Carey Dean Moore.

Moore, 60, who has been on death row for 38 years, was sentenced 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.

If he is put to death, it would be Nebraska's first time carrying out capital punishment in 21 years. It also would be the first time the state would use lethal injection.

The execution warrant, issued by Chief Justice Michael Heavican, isn't specific about the time, saying Department of Correctional Services Director Scott Frakes can execute Moore between the hours of 12:01 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. 

Moore has been notified the lethal injection drugs to be used in his execution are diazepam, fentanyl citrate, cisatracurium besylate and potassium chloride.

One of those drugs, potassium chloride, is set to expire at the end of August. Because of that, Attorney General Doug Peterson had filed a motion in May asking the court to speed up its consideration of an execution warrant for Moore, and to set the execution date as early as July 10.

Both the spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections and a spokesman for Gov. Pete Ricketts said the state is prepared to carry out the order. 

Steve Helgeland of Rapid City, South Dakota, Maynard Helgeland’s son, said family members haven’t decided yet whether a representative would come to Lincoln to witness Moore’s execution.

He said he has no interest whatsoever in seeing it himself.

“I will say this, I have little faith that Nebraska will get it done,” Helgeland said in a phone call Thursday, about an hour after learning of the Aug. 14 execution date.

If it does, he said, they’ll gather as a family and say prayers for their dad and for Moore.

Helgeland said he doesn’t care what happens to Moore, whether he’s executed or spends the rest of his life in prison.

“We just want him off the front of the newspaper,” he said. “Whatever way that happens, we’ll take it as it comes.”

In an email to the Journal Star in late June, Moore reiterated that even though his attorney, Jeff Pickens at the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy, would like to file something on his behalf, "most certainly I do not." 

In a filing in May signed by Moore, he said he met with two lawyers with the commission in March who told him of legal options he could pursue. Moore said he told them he didn't want representation, "nor did I want any legal action pursued on my behalf."

In the recent email, Moore said he would like the commission to file a motion for his brother Donald, to get him released from parole "which he has been on since forever it seems like." 

"That would be perfect for me," Moore said. 

Moore has said often that he wished he had not involved his younger brother, Donald, then 14, in the shooting of Van Ness in August 1979. Moore, who was 21 at the time, had taken his brother with him to rob a cab driver. 

Pickens said in an email to the Journal Star that the commission still represents Moore, but at this time he doesn't intend to file anything in response to the warrant. Moore is not a party to any other pending death penalty matters or appeals and Pickens said he doesn't know if resolution of those matters could affect his warrant.

"If Moore doesn’t request recall of the warrant or a stay of execution, I don’t know the circumstances by which either of those things could occur," he said.

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In June, Lancaster County District Judge Jodi Nelson, in response to open records lawsuits filed by the Journal Star, Omaha World-Herald and ACLU, ordered the state to release records of communications with its lethal injection drug supplier, as well as several other documents related to Nebraska's efforts to carry out the death penalty.

But she found certain other documents are exempt from disclosure under a state law protecting the identities of members of the state's execution team. Those documents include purchase orders and chemical analysis reports.

The department appealed the decision and the records ordered to be released remain undisclosed.

Nebraska ACLU legal director Amy Miller said in a written statement that the organization was "deeply disappointed" that the court would issue a death warrant when multiple cases relevant to the death penalty are currently pending in the courts.

"That an execution would be carried out when the governor, attorney general and Department of Corrections have not honored open records laws and kept public records about the procedure secret from Nebraskans is incredibly troubling," Miller said. 

ACLU of Nebraska understands Moore seemingly wishes to file no further actions in the court on his behalf, she said.

"Nevertheless, we fully intend to litigate the troubling legal and policy issues relating to our arbitrary and broken death penalty process," Miller said. 

Nebraska's 12 death row inmates

Reach the writer at 402-473-7228 or jyoung@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSLegislature.

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State government reporter

JoAnne Young covers state government, including the Legislature and state agencies, and the people they serve.

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