Nebraska State Capitol

The Nebraska State Capitol on Sept. 5, 2017, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The state of Nebraska executed Carey Dean Moore on Aug. 14, 2018 — the first use of capital punishment in Nebraska in 21 years.

Moore was convicted for the 1979 killings of Omaha cab drivers Reuel Van Ness and Maynard Helgeland when he was 22. Following his conviction, he remained a death row inmate for 38 years.

Moore’s execution was the first since 1997 and the first since voters reinstated the death penalty in the 2016 referendum.

Nebraska, having exclusively used the electric chair until now, executed Moore on Tuesday with diazepam, cisatracurium besylate, potassium chloride and fentanyl — an intense opioid never before used in the US for execution purposes.

Specifically used to reduce breathing in those condemned to death, fentanyl has made many death penalty opposers question the ethics of using an untested opioid on an inmate, especially in a country that has a rising opioid epidemic.

“The capital punishment system in the U.S. is terribly broken and problematic,” Eric Berger, assistant dean of faculty and professor of law at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said in an email. “It is not easy to end a human life humanely. Most recently, numerous botched lethal injection executions have helped shed light on the fact that this supposedly serene, sterile procedure can in fact inflict excruciating pain on the condemned.”

The Omaha World-Herald reported, “Moore’s face became red and then purple ... and at one point his abdomen heaved and his breathing became faster.”

The Vice President of the UNL College Republicans issued a statement regarding the issue:

“If you believe in democracy and the democratic process, than you must respect the will of the people, and Nebraska voted overwhelmingly to reinstate capital punishment. The government is only a vehicle for the execution of the will of the people, and the people of Nebraska spoke.”

The Daily Nebraskan reached out to the UNL Young Democrats, but they did not respond at the time of publication.

In his final statement, Moore, who claimed that while he is guilty, there are “at least four” death row inmates “who are innocent.”

When asked about Moore’s statement, Berger fervently said, “There are almost certainly innocent people on death row in the United States. Error, unfortunately, is simply part of the criminal justice system.”