Vernon Madison lives to see another day.
Thursday night, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request by the state to proceed with the 65-year-old’s execution.
The news came after the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals granted Madison’s attorneys a stay of execution Thursday morning — just hours before the scheduled lethal injection.
The Alabama Attorney General’s Office immediately petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the lower court’s order, arguing the 11th Circuit had read conclusions into the State order that did not exist legally and decided “based on an issue that is clearly and plainly foreclosed under this Court’s precedent,” the motion read.
The SCOTUS handed down the 4-4 decision at 8:22 pm.
Madison is represented by the Equal Justice Initiative, an Alabama-based non-profit organization that provides legal representation to indigent prisoners they believe have been denied fair treatment.
AL.com reports Bryan Stevenson, EJI founder and executive director, had this to say about the decision:
“We are relieved that important questions surrounding the propriety and constitutionality of Mr. Madison’s execution will be reviewed. Vernon Madison was given a life sentence by a Mobile County jury made up of jurors who believe in the death penalty. In most Alabama courtrooms, Mr. Madison would have never been sentenced to death. Judicial override in Alabama should be eliminated.”
Madison was convicted and sentenced to death for fatally shooting a Mobile police corporal in 1985. He has faced two retrials since then due to misconduct by prosecutors. Appellate courts found prosecutors used race-based jury selection in the first trial and illegal expert witness testimony in the second. A third jury reduced the death sentence to life without parole, and the judge overrode that decision for the death penalty.
EJI attorneys have long argued against the constitutionality of sending Madison to death on the grounds that he is mentally incompetent. The lawyers say Madison is unable to remember the crime or understand why he faces execution by the State because he suffers from dementia. Multiple strokes have left him legally blind and unable to walk unassisted.
The Montgomery Advertiser reports the appellate court will hear arguments on the case in June.