Top US court halts murderer's execution

Mobile Police Det. Raymond Grissett right looks at a memorial wall dedicated to fallen police officers. A portrait of Cpl. Julius Schulte is at lower left

The US Supreme Court has granted a stay of execution for an Alabama inmate whose dementia, his lawyers say, prevents him from remembering the murder he was convicted of committing decades ago.

Madison has been convicted three times in the shooting of Mobile police Cpl.

Madison's attorneys petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, claiming that Madison is not competent and the execution would violate the Eighth Amendment as cruel and unusual punishment.

Madison's attorneys said the state is trying to execute a man who "no longer has a memory of the commission of the crime for which he is to be executed". Julius Schulte. In 1985, Schulte was responding to a domestic disturbance call. Though the jury recommended a sentence of life in prison during the sentencing phase of his trial, Judge Ferrill McRae overrode their decision and sentencing him to death.

Now on his second appeal, Madison argues his death sentence is unconstitutional because it was not given by a jury.

The state is still waiting for approval to carry out the execution overnight.

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A law enacted in Alabama previous year eliminates the ability of judges to override juries' recommendations in capital cases. In the appeal this week, Madison's lawyers said he is not competent to be executed because he is legally blind, can not walk without assistance and is unable to recall the murder or understand his punishment. If they fail to proceed, the Alabama Attorney General's Office must request a new execution date from the Alabama Supreme Court.

They argued that he does not understand why the state is attempting to execute him and that because of his condition, he is incompetent for capital punishment.

The son of a slain Alabama police officer said his father should not be forgotten as courts and media focus on the legal wrangling over whether his father's killer should be executed.

They argued that this proved mental competency because he understood why he was being executed, even though he did not remember carrying out the murder for which he was being executed.

Alabama inmate Vernon Madison was scheduled to be put to death last night at 6 p.m., but he is still alive this morning.

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