LINCOLN — The grounds outside the Nebraska State Penitentiary were quiet Tuesday morning leading up to the execution of convicted killer Carey Dean Moore by lethal injection.
Though state officials were prepared for crowds, few protesters for or against the death penalty braved the light rain that fell on Lincoln.
Moore was declared dead at 10:47 a.m. — Nebraska's first execution by that method and its first execution since 1997.
Moore, 60, served for 38 years on death row for the 1979 killings of Omaha cabdrivers Reuel Van Ness and Maynard Helgeland.
Moore was brought to state pen on Friday night. He was allowed to give a final statement at about 9:30 a.m. At that time, he directed witnesses to a letter he had previously written.
There were 10 total witnesses to the execution, including the media witnesses. Moore had three witnesses and a clergy member, although the state did not identify them.
Corrections Director Scott Frakes was a witness, as were the penitentiary warden and two other department officials.
Just a handful of opponents showed up outside the state prison Tuesday morning.
Matt Maly with Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty said Tuesday morning he hoped there would not be a circus-like atmosphere outside the penitentiary, but he wanted to be present to represent his group.
The group is planning a rally at the State Capitol at 5 p.m. Organizer Ari Kohen said in a statement: "This costly, reckless and secretive process is incompatible with Nebraska values and it's important that Gov. Ricketts knows that his constituents don't want this execution to happen."
Given the opportunity to reinstate the death penalty, Nebraskans voted 61 percent in favor of restoring it.
Vivian Tuttle said she is outside of the prison today to remember the two men killed by Moore. “I’m here for the victims,” she said. Tuttle’s daughter, Evonne Tuttle, was one of five people killed in a bank robbery in Norfolk in 2002.
The execution at the prison in Lincoln was the state's first using lethal injection and the first in the nation to use the four-drug protocol recently adopted by state prison officials.
A raucous, party-like atmosphere surrounded the prison when the state resumed executions in 1994, after a lengthy pause. That year, more than 1,000 people showed up for the execution of Harold Lamont Otey, and some sang the song “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” after it was announced that the death sentence had been carried out.
The conduct, labeled inappropriate by some state officials, later prompted the state to move to daytime executions to avoid the late-night crowds. When Robert Williams was executed mid-morning in 1997, fewer than 60 people gathered outside the prison.
Gov. Pete Ricketts was scheduled to be in a meeting with state agency officials at the time of the execution, according to his spokesman, Taylor Gage.