Published: Mon, January 29, 2018
Medicine | By Rogelio Lindsey

Supreme Courtroom halts execution of inmate with dementia

Supreme Courtroom halts execution of inmate with dementia

UPDATE (6:00 p.m.) The U.S. Supreme Court has granted a temporary stay of execution for Vernon Madison.

The Supreme Court ordered the the stay to remain until justices decide whether they will grant Madison's writ of certiorari, or if they will review the case. 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. Julius Schulte (right) and shot him in the back of the head in April, 1985. Madison's lawyers say he is legally blind, has slurred speech, can not walk on his own and suffers from urinary incontinence. Schulte had responded to a call about a missing child made by Madison's then-girlfriend.

Madison's sentence was imposed in 1994 by a judge, after a jury recommended life without parole.

Attorney Bryan Stevenson said they were "thrilled" by the ruling and killing Madison would have been "unnecessary and cruel", reports the Associated Press.

The son of a slain Alabama police officer said Friday that his father should not be forgotten as the US Supreme Court and media focus on legal wrangling over whether his father's killer is competent to be executed.

"The state court did not unreasonably apply (two prior decisions) when it determined that Madison is competent to be executed because - notwithstanding his memory loss - he recognizes that he will be put to death as punishment for the murder he was found to have committed", the justices wrote.

The Supreme Court previously denied relief to Madison after a 2016 competency hearing ruled Madison was competent. The U.S. Supreme Court later opened the way for the execution to proceed. However, appealate courts overturned Madison's convictions twice based on prosecutorial misconduct.

Meanwhile, death row inmate Doyle Lee Hamm, who killed a Cullman hotel employee during a robbery in 1987, is scheduled to be executed February 22. Alabama lawmakers in 2017 changed the law to no longer allow a judge to override a jury's sentence recommendation in death penalty-eligible cases. Three justices would not have granted the stay: Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil Gorsuch.

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