Carey Dean Moore deserves to die in prison.
He murdered Reuel Van Ness and Maynard Helgeland, two Omaha cab drivers, in 1979. The first killing came with his younger brother in tow; the second was committed alone to callously prove that Moore could take a man’s life on his own.
This is a man whose crimes against innocent victims must mandate he remains incarcerated until his final breath. However, Moore should not die under the circumstances he presently faces.
Moore is slated to be put to death for his crimes Tuesday morning at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln. Questions about the efficacy of Nebraska’s four-drug lethal injection protocol – never before used in capital punishment and written in one draft without any external input – and the sources from which the state obtained those drugs remain unknown.
Yes, Moore broke the law in killing two men. That cannot be disputed. But the state has yet to definitely prove it can follow the law while killing him.
An open-records lawsuit filed by the Journal Star and other media outlets sought to prove if that were indeed the case. A judge ruled that most of the documents requested in the suit – including many surrounding the sourcing of the drugs – were in fact public records that should be released.
Quickly, the state appealed the decision. Around that same time, the Attorney General’s Office took what appears to be an unprecedented step by challenging a subpoena issued by the Nebraska Legislature’s Judiciary Committee to Corrections Director Scott Frakes.
The lengths to which state officials have gone to hide the details of this process should trouble all Nebraskans. Both of these court actions are indisputably designed to hide specifics of the state’s death penalty protocol from the public, as if something unsavory lurks beneath the surface.
The open-records case remains on appeal, and the subpoena suit remains under advisement. It’s unclear if either will be decided before Moore’s execution – the first in Nebraska since 1997.
That’s assuming everything occurs as scheduled, of course, never a guarantee with capital punishment.
The latest potential wrench came from a pharmaceutical company, which filed a lawsuit late Tuesday. The suit aims to prevent what it believes is its potassium chloride – since, again, the state refuses to identify where it bought the execution drugs – from being used in next week’s lethal injection.
Unwarranted secrecy and unmerited opacity spite the esteemed words above the State Capitol’s north door: “The salvation of the state is watchfulness in the citizen.” The citizens have done everything in their power to be watchful regarding capital punishment, only to be rebuffed by the state.
Too many grave concerns remain unaddressed for Moore’s execution. Until the state provides the requisite answers and proves it’s acting in accordance with the law, his death is a bridge too far.