Alabama Inmate Granted Stay of Execution for Dementia

29 January, 2018, 03:35 | Author: Andrea Terry
  • 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

Vernon Madison was granted a stay of execution by the U.S. Supreme Court after his attorneys argued that dementia left the 67-year-old Alabama inmate unable to remember killing a police officer three decades ago.

Vernon Madison was convicted [cert. petition, PDF] in Alabama of murdering a police officer in 1985.

In prior appeals, Madison's attorneys have argued their client doesn't fully understand why he is being punished because dementia has taken his ability to remember his crime.

State courts upheld Madison's death sentence, and the Supreme Court, applying the 1996 law, said those decisions should be respected. Madison's lawyers say he is legally blind, has slurred speech, can not walk on his own and suffers from urinary incontinence. Julius Schulte, who was responding to a April 1985 domestic disturbance call.

A law enacted in Alabama past year eliminates the ability of judges to override juries' recommendations in capital cases.

The state has asked the court to let the execution proceed Thursday.

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'. "Killing a fragile man suffering from dementia is unnecessary and cruel", attorney Bryan Stevenson, of the Equal Justice Initiative, said Thursday after the stay was granted.


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 Supreme Court previously denied relief to Madison after a 2016 competency hearing ruled Madison was competent.

"We are thrilled that the court stopped this execution tonight". The stay is in effect while the court decides how to rule on an appeal from the defense.

The Supreme Court has generally been suspicious of judge-imposed executions.

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.

"N$3 o state now allows a judge to override a jury's capital sentencing verdict".

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch were opposed to the stay, according to the order issued last night.

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