LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — A convicted murderer on Nevada's death row who had repeatedly requested that his execution be expedited was found dead in his cell from an apparent suicide, prison authorities said Tuesday, adding that an investigation has been opened.
Scott Raymond Dozier, 48, apparently hanged himself on Saturday in his cell at Ely State prison, the western US state's Department of Corrections (NDOC) said in a statement.
Dozier was housed alone. An autopsy has been scheduled.
His lawyer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that his client "seemed to be in good spirits" before his death, and that he wasn't under suicide watch, though he had tried to kill himself in the past.
In 2007, Dozier was convicted for the 2002 murder of fellow drug trafficker Jeremiah Miller, who was decapitated. The victim's torso was discovered in a suitcase in Las Vegas.
He was also convicted in the killing of another associate whose remains were found buried in the desert.
Dozier's case was well-publicised as he gave several television interviews in which he expressed his desire to be executed — having waived his right to appeal.
"I don't want to be dead. I just would rather be dead than in prison," he told VICE News in December.
Dozier's execution via lethal injection — using the powerful and controversial drug fentanyl — had last been scheduled for July 2018.
But it was cancelled only hours beforehand at the request of drug manufacturer Alvogen, which said its sedative midazolam had been obtained via a third party, without disclosing it would be used in executions.
It also would have been the first execution using fentanyl, a powerful opioid at the centre of an overdose epidemic in the United States.
Nebraska went on to become the first US state to use the drug in an execution in August 2018. Nevada has not executed a prisoner since 2006. Its new governor, Democrat Steve Sisolak, who took office on Monday, is against the death penalty.
Twenty-five people were executed in the United States in 2018; the number peaked at 98 in 1999. Though capital punishment is legal in 31 states, only eight carried out executions last year.