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The U.S. Supreme Court intervened in an execution January 25, roughly 30 minutes before the state was scheduled to carry out the death sentence of 67-year-old Vernon Madison, convicted of the 1985 capital murder of MobilePolice Officer Julius Schulte.
Vernon Madison's attorneys argued the 67-year-old is unable to remember the 1985 killing of a police officer that landed him on death row.
Thursday's stay will remain in effect until the Court reaches a decision about Madison's appeal.
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.
In another petition, also still pending before the Supreme Court, Madison's lawyers argue that putting Madison to death for a death sentence imposed by a judge when the jury had voted to sentence him to life is "arbitrary and capricious" now that the state eliminated the possibility of "judicial override".
Madison has been convicted three times in the shooting of Mobile police Cpl.
They said Madison has suffered several strokes and is frequently confused. Julius Schulte, who was responding to a April 1985 domestic disturbance call.
Madison's attorneys also have asked for a stay on the grounds that a judge sentenced him to death, even though a jury recommended life imprisonment.
The court delayed the execution to consider whether to further review the case.
Attorney Bryan Stevenson said they were "thrilled" by the ruling and killing Madison would have been "unnecessary and cruel", reports the Associated Press. According to the Supreme Court order, the stay was granted "pending the disposition of the petition for a writ of certiorari".
The Supreme Court has previously ruled that condemned inmates must have a "rational understanding" why they are being executed.
"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. However, appealate courts overturned Madison's convictions twice based on prosecutorial misconduct.
Alabama lawmakers past year abolished the practice of allowing judges to override a jury's recommendation in capital cases.
Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch noted that they would have allowed the execution to proceed.
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