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Capital Punishment

US Supreme Court Clears Way For Alabama To Execute Death Row Inmate

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WHERE WE ARE NOW: The US Supreme Court has cleared the way for Alabama to proceed with Domineque Ray’s execution. This list summarizes the latest developments.

  • #Alabama has asked #SCOTUS to review the 11th Circuit stay, then filed a revised version of its appeal.
  • The state says it has changed its execution protocol to eliminate any religious presence in the execution chamber.
  • The #Alabama Department of Corrections is now reportedly refusing to let #DominequeRay have a Qur’an (Koran) in his pre-execution holding cell.
  • #DominequeRay has also sought a separate stay of execution from #SCOTUS based on #Alabama prosecutors’ suppression of evidence that the sole witness to implicate Ray had schizophrenia, was hallucinating in custody before his testimony, and was on psych meds at trial.
  • #SCOTUS is considering the state’s application to vacate the stay imposed by the 11th Circuit. If the application is granted, Alabama could carry out the execution of #DominequeRay tonight. Alabama’s execution warrant on Ray runs out at midnight tonight, if the Supreme Court rules against the State of Alabama.
  • The state of Alabama says a Muslim inmate has access to a Qur’an as he waits to see whether the U.S. Supreme Court will allow his lethal injection.
  • A court document says a copy of the Islamic holy book is available to 42-year-old Dominique Ray. It says Ray also was allowed to take a prayer mat into a holding cell.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court has cleared the way for Alabama to proceed with the execution.
  • Justices on Thursday evening vacated a lower court’s stay with a 5-4 decision.
  • The Alabama Department of Corrections plans to carry out the execution of Dominique Ray on Thursday night.

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a stay in the Thursday execution of Alabama death row inmate Domineque Ray, who sued the Alabama Department of Corrections to have his imam present during his execution.

Alabama is accused of violating the religious rights of a Muslim inmate set for execution by refusing to allow an imam at his death, a federal court said Wednesday in blocking the lethal injection.

The 11th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals granted an indefinite stay for Dominique Ray, 42, a day before he was scheduled to die for the slaying of a teenager more than two decades ago.

A three-judge panel of judges wrote that it was “exceedingly loath to substitute our judgment on prison procedures.” But, they added that it “looks substantially likely to us that Alabama has run afoul of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”

Read the full 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling below:

UPDATE: The State of Alabama has refiled an emergency motion to vacate the stay. Read the amended motion below.

UPDATE: Domineque Ray’s lawyers have filed an amended motion to respond to Alabama’s motion to vacate.

UPDATE: The state has responded to Ray’s opposition to vacate the execution stay.

UPDATE: State of Alabama has written opposition to Ray requesting writ of certiorari to SCOTUS.

UPDATE: Ray’s lawyers have filed a reply to the State of Alabama’s opposition to writ of certiorari.

UPDATE: The US Supreme Court denies certiorari in Domineque Ray’s case. The execution will proceed in Alabama tonight. Justices Kagan, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor dissented.

Execution Alert

James Byrd Jr. Killing: Texas Set To Execute John William King For Brutal 1998 Dragging Death, Barring Execution Stay

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UPDATE: John William King has filed a petition for certiorari at the US Supreme Court, seeking a stay of execution in his death penalty case. Read the petition filed at the US Supreme Court below:

The dragging death of James Byrd Jr. was one of the most gruesome hate crimes in recent memory; rightfully referred to as a “modern-day lynching.” Picked up by the side of the road by three white men in the early morning hours of June 7, 1998, the 49-year-old black man was beaten and his face spray-painted; a logging chain was then tied around his ankles. He was dragged behind a pickup truck for almost 3 miles before parts of his body were displayed in front of a church outside Jasper, Texas.


Now, one of the three men involved in Byrd’s killing, John William King, is set to be executed on Wednesday, barring a last-minute stay of execution, CNN reports. If the death penalty is carried out, King will be the second person Texas has executed in Byrd’s death: Lawrence Russell Brewer died by lethal injection in 2011. The third participant, Shawn Allen Berry, was sentenced to life in prison after cooperating with the investigation.

But Byrd’s own relatives have spoken out against executing their loved one’s killers, according to earlier CNN reports:

Byrd’s sister, Betty Boatner, told CNN in 2011, after Brewer’s execution, that she “forgave him 13 years ago.” His son, Ross, joined protests decrying Brewer’s execution, saying, “You can’t fight murder with murder.” Ross’ sister, Renee Mullins, said after Brewer’s execution that she preferred a life sentence for her dad’s killer.

“I don’t feel justice was served,” she told CNN. “Lawrence Brewer was just given an option to take some drugs in his arm and go to sleep. My father wasn’t given that option. He was brutally tortured for 3 miles, until he was dismembered.”

King, a white supremacist whose history of racism is well-documented, has maintained his innocence, repeatedly appealing his guilty verdict. But cigarette butts found at the scene of Byrd’s beating contained King’s DNA; police also found lighters engraved with the words “KKK” and “Possum.”

“Possum” was King’s nickname.

There has been no dispute about King’s belief in white supremacy. From CNN:

Though the motive was never specifically outlined, race was a theme in King’s trial. Prosecutors presented evidence that King had been an “exalted cyclops” of the white supremacist Confederate Knights of America and regularly drew lynching scenes.

His tattoos included a burning cross, the double lightning bolt insignia of Adolf Hitler’s paramilitary Schutzstaffel, a robed Ku Klux Klansman, a swastika, the words “Aryan Pride” and a black man hanging from a tree.

Gang experts testified King was recruiting others to his cause — an all-out race war — and that leaving Byrd’s body in front of the church, rather than obscuring it, “demonstrated that the crime was meant to spread terror.”

A note presented at King’s trial intended for Brewer, who was in the jail at the time, showed he had no remorse about his role in Byrd’s brutal murder.

“Seriously, though, Bro, regardless of the outcome of this, we have made history and shall die proudly remembered if need be,” King wrote.

He signed off: “Much Aryan love…Possum.”

King’s execution is scheduled for Wednesday at 7 pm ET at Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville. According to the Associated Press, King will be the third person executed in the state of Texas this year.

(Reporting by The Root)

This post will be updated when new information is available.

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Capital Punishment

State of Arkansas Faces New Fight Over Sedative For Executions

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal lawsuit filed by death row inmates is renewing a court fight over a sedative Arkansas uses for lethal injections, two years after the state raced to put eight convicted killers to death before a batch of the drug expired.


The federal trial that begins Tuesday could impact Arkansas’ efforts to restart executions, which had been on hold due to a lack of lethal injection drugs. It’ll also be the latest in a series of legal battles over midazolam, a sedative that other states have moved away from amid claims it doesn’t render inmates fully unconscious during lethal injections.

Arkansas executed four inmates in 2017, after four others were halted by the courts. The trial is expected to revisit two of those executions that inmates’ attorneys say were problematic.

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Capital Punishment

Alabama Seeks New Execution Date For Death Row Inmate Spared By The Clock

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama is seeking a new execution date for an inmate who was spared last week when the clock struck midnight before a divided U.S. Supreme Court said the lethal injection could proceed.


The state on Monday asked the Alabama Supreme Court to schedule an execution for 46-year-old Christopher Lee Price.

A federal judge postponed Price’s lethal injection last week. The high court overturned the stay, but the decision came about two hours after the warrant scheduling his execution automatically expired at midnight.

The state asked the court to set an execution on April 25 or May 2 in the “interests of justice” and set aside a rule requiring 30 days’ notice.

Price was convicted in the 1991 stabbing death of pastor Bill Lynn.

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