The Supreme Court Stopped Alabama From Executing A Man Over Competency Questions

Joy Montgomery
January 28, 2018

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said Friday that he was disappointed in the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to delay Madison's execution, saying "justice is again delayed" for the officer's family.

Vernon Madison, 67, has spent over three decades on death row for killing Corporal Julius Schulte, a police officer in the city of Mobile.

The state of Alabama had planned to execute Madison on Thursday evening, but less than 30 minutes before the scheduled death, Justice Clarence Thomas issued a temporary stay.

Madison's lawyers say strokes and dementia have left Madison unable to understand his looming execution.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the execution of Vernon Madison to review Madison's competency claims. His lawyers argue the death sentence is unfair because a 2017 Alabama law no longer permits judicial override and they say Madison's sentence should be commuted to life without parole.

The U.S. Supreme Court later opened the way for the execution to proceed.

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In each of his trials, juries determined Madison shot Schulte twice in the head as the officer sat in his patrol auto outside Madison's girlfiriend's house, where Schulte was responding to a domestic dispute. They argued the court should stop the planned injection to review whether executing someone in such a mental condition violates evolving standards of decency and a ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Alabama prison system spokesman Bob Horton said Schulte's family has chosen not to witness the execution.

Prosecutors said Madison shot Schulte in the back of the head after he responded to a call from Madison's girlfriend.

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

"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. Prosecutors have said that Madison crept up and shot Schulte in the back of the head as he sat in his police auto.

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