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Judge in Vegas OK’s setting late-July Nevada execution date

June 8, 2021 GMT

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A judge said Monday that prosecutors in Las Vegas can set a date in late July for Nevada’s first execution in 15 years, although an attorney for the convicted mass murderer who would be put to death said they’ll appeal to the state Supreme Court.

A federal judge also could decide Thursday to block Zane Michael Floyd’s lethal injection to allow time to review the drugs and the procedure that would be used.

Prison officials have not disclosed drug names or the so-called injection protocol.

Judge Michael Villani’s four-page order said Floyd had “exhausted his legal remedies,” but also acknowledged ongoing state and federal court challenges.

The judge said there was no reason for him to deny the warrant of execution Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson sought for Floyd killing four people and wounding a fifth in a shotgun attack at a Las Vegas grocery store in 1999.

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“The court is unpersuaded that the Nevada Department of Corrections must first prove that it can safely carry out an execution before the court can sign an order of execution,” the judge said.

An exact date for Floyd’s lethal injection would be set during the week beginning July 26 once a death warrant is issued July 9.

Brad Levenson, a federal public defender representing Floyd, promised the state high court appeal and noted that U.S. District Judge Richard Boulware II has indicated a willingness to stay the execution to hold evidentiary hearings.

Prosecutor Alexander Chen also pointed to Thursday’s potentially pivotal hearing.

Levenson submitted a written filing Monday asking Villani for a date after Oct. 1, to allow time for court challenges.

Floyd also is seeking a Sept. 21 clemency hearing before the state Board of Pardons made up of the governor, seven state Supreme Court justices and the state attorney general.

Floyd, 45, does not want to die. But after he lost federal appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take his case, Wolfson moved forward in March to have his sentence carried out.

At the time, a measure was pending in the state Legislature to abolish the death penalty. It failed.

Nevada requires executions to be by lethal injection, and state law requires prison officials to make public their execution protocol after a death warrant is issued.

Challenges of the drugs and the execution procedure that prisons officials drew up for the lethal injection of Scott Dozier stalled his execution twice, in 2017 and 2018.

Dozier, convicted of killings in Nevada and Arizona, pleaded to be put to death and expressed frustration at the delays. He killed himself in prison in January 2019.

The last person executed in Nevada was Daryl Mack in 2006 for a 1988 rape and murder in Reno. Mack had asked for his sentence to be carried out.