Supreme Court stays execution of Alabama man in judicial override case

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The U.S. Supreme Court has delayed the execution of an Alabama inmate with dementia who lawyers say can't remember slaying a police officer.

Vernon Madison, 67, was scheduled to be given the lethal injection at 6pm Thursday night at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore.

Prosecutors had to try Madison three times to secure a conviction.

The stay of execution was granted by the court while the justices consider whether to take up Madison's case in which his lawyers argue he is no longer competent to face execution, noting this he has been diagnosed with vascular dementia and "is unable to recollect the sequence of events from the offense, to his arrest, to his trial and can no longer connect the underlying offense to his punishment". In the intervening years, he has suffered several strokes, which have limited his mobility and capacity to communicate.

In 2016, the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Madison was no longer legally eligible to be executed because of his memory loss. 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.

Roughly two and a half hours later, the court announced that a stay had been granted. Julius Schulte, who was responding to a April 1985 domestic disturbance call.

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The Supreme Court ruled a year ago that he is smart enough to understand why he is being executed, even if he does not remember it.

The temporary stay was ordered at around 5:30 p.m.to allow the court to review Madison's claims of mental incompetency and question the legality of "judicial override;" the jury in Madison's third trial recommended life in prison, but former Mobile County Judge Ferrell McRae imposed the death penalty.

"No state now allows a judge to override a jury's capital sentencing verdict", says the cert petition filed by Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative.

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

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.

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