The Ricketts administration is keeping the faith with Nebraska voters who in 2016 strongly supported reviving the death penalty.
The Department of Correctional Services announced Thursday that it plans to use a new combination of four drugs to carry out the next execution. The previous, three-drug protocol was replaced because the state could not legally obtain the drugs.
Jose Sandoval, considered the ring leader of the 2002 Norfolk bank robbery murders, would be the first person executed using these drugs: diazepam, fentanyl citrate, cisatracurium besylate and potassium chloride.
The state’s next step is for Attorney General Doug Peterson to request a death warrant.
It’s been a while. Nebraska last carried out the death penalty in 1997, when it executed murderer and rapist Robert E. Williams.
Some members of the Legislature highlighted the delays in carrying out the death penalty as a key reason for repealing it in 2015. They had watched the state struggle to obtain the necessary drugs for lethal injection, and the courts had already outlawed using Nebraska’s previous method, the electric chair.
A referendum revived capital punishment. Now voters frustrated with the pace of the state’s latest implementation of the death penalty will need to practice patience. This new drug protocol, like others before it, will face legal challenges. The appeals process exists to reduce the likelihood of an innocent person being executed.
Death penalty opponents say they plan to question the unproven protocol, although that might be an uphill legal battle. Opponents also continue to appeal the legality of involving a three-judge panel in Nebraska’s sentencing process for capital cases.