The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Alabama Death Row inmate Vernon Madison can't be executed.
Madison is one of Alabama's longest-serving death row inmates. He was convicted in the April 1985 slaying of Mobile police Cpl. Julius Schulte.
He was convicted and sentenced to death in both 1985 and 1990, but both times an appellate court sent the case back, first for a violation involving race-based jury selection and then based on improper testimony from an expert witness for the prosecution.
A doctor hired by Madison's attorneys with the Equal Justice Initiative, Dr. John Goff, had testified at a state competency trial in 2016 that Madison does not understand why he is being executed or the act for which he is being punished, according to the 11th Circuit opinion.
"None of the evidence at the competency hearing belies Dr. Goff's testimony. We therefore conclude that Mr. Madison is incompetent to be executed," the 11th Circuit ruled today.
Madison has claimed that he is mentally incompetent to be executed.
Madison, 66, has suffered strokes resulting in significant cognitive and physical decline, according to the appeals court ruling.
At the competency hearing, Madison presented unrebutted testimony from Goff that his strokes caused major vascular disorder (also known as vascular dementia) and related memory impairments and that, as a result, he has no memory of committing the murder--"the very act that is the reason for his execution"--and does not believe he killed anyone, the appeals court stated in its order.
The case will now be taken up before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has set oral arguments for June 23.
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