US Supreme Court maintains execution stay for Alabama inmate

Madison's lawyers have also asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to halt the execution on the grounds that he is incompetent because of strokes and dementia. The jury recommended a life sentence, but the judge overrode the recommendation and sentenced him to death.

In January, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Hurst v. Florida that Florida's unique system of imposing death sentences - allowing judges, rather than juries, to make the decision - was unconstitutional, prompting that state to revamp its death penalty. In most Alabama courtrooms, Mr. Madison would have never been sentenced to death.

"Witnesses, Alabama Department of Corrections personnel, and other Executive Department personnel continue to prepare for Madison's execution in the event this motion is granted", according to the motion filed by Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange's (R) office.

Vernon Madison is one of Alabama's longest-serving death row inmates.

Mobile Circuit Judge Robert H. Smith said that Madison has a rational understanding that he is going to be executed because of the murder he committed and a rational understanding that, "the state is seeking retribution and that he will die when is executed".

(2) Whether the state court's decision that Madison is competent to be executed was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceeding.

The U.S. Supreme Court says the execution of an Alabama inmate will not go forward Thursday.

"Mr. Madison suffers from dementia, has no independent recollection of the offense he was convicted of and consequently does not have a rational understanding of why the State of Alabama is attempting to execute him", attorneys with EJI wrote in the stay request.

Madison was convicted of killing officer Julius Schulte in 1985. Schulte was responding to a domestic dispute call involving Madison, the AP reported.

Attorneys for Madison had argued that he is not competent enough to be executed.

But Thursday, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the stay and scheduled briefings and oral argument for the coming weeks. Madison's first two convictions were overturned.

After the stay of execution was upheld, he remained in the isolation cell overnight before being moved back into his death row cell Friday. Madison's attorneys argued the court used a restrictive definition of the term "mental illness" that did not take into account the effects of Madison's strokes.

A jury convicted Madison of capital murder in September of 1985, but the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals ordered a new trial because prosecutors excluded blacks from the jury pool. In a psychological evaluation, Madison had "difficulty processing information" and he "was unable to rephrase simple sentences".

"Both the family of Julius Schulte and the citizens of Mobile, Alabama, who lost a dedicated law enforcement officer as a result of Madison's crime, are entitled to see justice carried out in this case", attorneys for the state wrote.


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