Scott Dozier spent years trying to convince the state of Nevada to let him die — even if that meant becoming the first death-row inmate in the United States to be executed using the opioid fentanyl.
But months after his execution was once again postponed, Dozier took matters into his own hands: Officials at the Ely State Prison in Nevada found him dead of an apparent suicide this weekend.
Dozier, 48, was convicted in 2007 of killing 22-year-old Jeremiah Miller and condemned to die. But he gave up attempts to overturn his sentence years ago — a move that made him, in death row parlance, a “volunteer.” Dozier, however, told VICE News last month that he had considered suicide, and Nevada authorities found him alone in his cell on Saturday, apparently dead of a hanging, a spokesperson for the Nevada Department of Corrections said in a statement.
“I’m not a suicidal person. You understand? Like I’m not. I don’t sit around and wish I was dead. I don’t want to be dead. I just would rather be dead than in prison,” Dozier told VICE News correspondent Gianna Toboni in mid-December. “If they stopped fucking with me and could be reasonable about it and stopped torturing me or punishing me further for their fuck ups and their inability to do this, it wouldn’t be an issue at all.”
Dozier had been scheduled to die last July, but hours before his planned execution, a state district court judge halted the proceedings after a drug manufacturer sued Nevada. The manufacturer, Alvogen, accused the state and its department of corrections of using deception to acquire a supply of Alvogen’s midazolam, a sedative used in a number of botched executions. As pharmaceutical companies increasingly try to stop their products from being used in lethal injections, states have struggled to find suitable alternatives — and started turning to untested combinations of drugs like midazolam and fentanyl.
Nevada and Alvogen continued to fight over the case late into 2018. In the meantime, Dozier’s mental health reportedly deteriorated: Prison officials said they put him into isolation after he repeatedly threatened to take his own life and purportedly took steps to do so, including by obtaining razor blades and nail clippers, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
“This whole process is having secondary and tertiary effects even on my family and loved ones. It’s ongoing, and it’s fucked up,” Dozier told VICE News in mid-December. “So it’s been a process of discussing things, like here are the options. You can either power through and keep going, I can stop the process and try to get my appeals back, or I could commit suicide.”
Originally, Dozier said that Nevada’s plan to execute him using fentanyl was “awesome.”
“I mean, it’s killing people all over the place,” Dozier told VICE News in an interview in July, from Ely State Prison. “You guys get pharmaceutical grade fentanyl and just bang me up man. Use a shit ton.”
Even if Dozier had lived long enough to be executed, he ultimately would not have become the first U.S. inmate executed using fentanyl. In August, Nebraska executed inmate Carey Dean Moore, convicted for killing two cab drivers in 1979, using a drug combination that involved fentanyl.
Watch the original VICE on HBO report below:
Gianna Toboni contributed to this report.
Cover image: This undated file photo provided by Nevada Department of Corrections photo shows death row inmate Scott Raymond Dozier, who was convicted in 2007 of robbing, killing and dismembering a 22-year-old man in Las Vegas, and was convicted in Arizona in 2005 of another murder and dismemberment near Phoenix. (Nevada Department of Corrections via AP, File)