Nevada prison officials disclosed Thursday that they want to use a never-before-tried combination of drugs for the state’s first lethal injection in 15 years, including the powerful opioid fentanyl, the sedative ketamine, and a heart-stopping salt, potassium chloride. Deputy federal public defenders representing convicted murderer Zane Michael Floyd promised courtroom challenges of the plan. A just-completed execution manual provided to a federal judge said a similar-acting drug, alfentanil, might substitute for fentanyl and potassium acetate might substitute for potassium chloride, the AP reports. In an alternate four-drug procedure, the muscle paralytic cisatracurium would also be used to stop the condemned man’s ability to breathe before he receives the heart-stopping agent.
US District Judge Richard Boulware II said he may issue a stay of execution ahead of a possible late-July death date to allow time to review the choice of drugs and the 65-page execution manual. A state judge in Las Vegas on Monday gave the go-ahead for prosecutors and prison officials to plan Floyd’s execution for the week of July 26. Floyd, 45, killed four people in a supermarket mass shooting in 1999. He lost state and federal appeals and the US Supreme Court declined to hear claims including that his mother’s use of alcohol while she was pregnant left him with a diminished mental capacity. His defense attorneys have promised to appeal again to the Nevada Supreme Court. A court fight about the choice of drugs also could push back an execution date. (In 2019, a Nevada inmate killed himself after his execution was called off.)