Friday, February 8, 2019

Alabama executes Muslim man without his imam

The 2nd Execution of 2019
Alabama death row inmate Domineque Ray died by lethal injection on the evening of February 8, 2019, reported the Montgomery Advertiser. 
Prison officials recorded his time of death as 10:12 p.m. 
Ray was executed after an 11th-hour ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court vacated a stay of execution pending a religious rights claim. Ray, a Muslim, had argued Alabama's practice of including a Christian prison chaplain in the execution chamber was in violation of the First Amendment. Ray sought to have his imam present at the time of his death. 
Imam Yusef Maisonet, Ray's spiritual adviser, witnessed Ray's execution from an adjoining chamber, which held media and prison officials. Two lawyers accompanied Maisonet. 
When the curtain opened at 9:44 p.m., Ray lifted his head from the gurney, looking into the witness room. With his right hand in a fist, he extended a pointer finger. 
Maisonet appeared to mirror the gesture and murmured that it was an acknowledgement of the singular God of the Islamic faith. When asked if he had any final words, Ray gave a brief faith declaration in Arabic. 
At 9:48, Ray made a fist with his left hand, raising his head slightly to look at his arm. His left arm shook briefly, before his eyes closed a minute later. 
When the curtains to the witness chamber were drawn at 10:05 p.m., Ray's right pointer remained extended. 
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals had previously stayed the execution, writing that there was a possibility Alabama had "run afoul" of the religious freedom clause of the First Amendment. 
The U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to vacate the stay "because Ray waited until Jan. 28, 2019, to seek relief." 
Justices Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor dissented to the ruling.
"Here, Ray has put forward a powerful claim that his religious rights will be violated at the moment the State puts him to death," Kagan wrote in her dissent. "The Eleventh Circuit wanted to hear that claim in full. Instead, this Court short-circuits that ordinary process — and itself rejects the claim with little briefing and no argument — just so the State can meet its preferred execution date."
Ray was sentenced to death for the 1995 rape and fatal stabbing of 15-year-old Tiffany Harville of Selma. Months before his death penalty trial, he was sentenced to life for a 1994 slaying of two teen brothers.
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