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Doctor who designed drug combination for upcoming execution resigns post as state's top physician

Michelle Rindels
Michelle Rindels
Criminal JusticeGovernment

The doctor who designed the lethal drug combination set to be used in an execution next month has resigned his position as Nevada’s chief medical officer after a little more than a year on the job.

Dr. John DiMuro’s resignation came Monday, according to Jordan Smith of the attorney general’s office, who mentioned the development in a Tuesday court hearing related to the scheduled execution. Smith said the career move didn’t have to do with the execution of 46-year-old Scott Dozier, who has voluntarily given up appeals after he was sentenced to death for a murder that happened in 2002.

Nevada Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Chrystal Main confirmed DiMuro’s resignation but said she couldn’t release his resignation letter or provide information about the rationale because it was a personnel record. DiMuro couldn't immediately be reached.

Dozier’s defense attorney David Anthony, as well as a representative from the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, both said it’s unclear how the development could affect the case.

In August, the Nevada Department of Corrections announced that its director had developed a lethal injection cocktail plan after consulting with the state’s chief medical officer. The combination — the opioid fentanyl, the drug known by the brand name Valium and the paralytic cisatracurium — has been criticized as untested and unprecedented.

The state and Dozier’s defense team met on Tuesday for a hearing before District Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti aimed at determining whether the execution will proceed in a lawful manner. The issue is set for further discussion on Friday, when the defense’s expert witness — an anesthesiologist — is expected to face questions about the efficacy and humaneness of the proposed drug combination.

DiMuro is an osteopathic physician who is board certified in anesthesiology and pain medicine, according to his official state biography. Prior to taking the post as the state’s top doctor, he was the medical director of pain services for the Sierra Surgery Hospital in Carson City.

The chief medical officer’s job entails enforcing all public health laws and regulations in the state, as well as investigating the causes of diseases, epidemics and other public health issues.


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