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What's next for Alabama death row inmate Vernon Madison after execution was stayed?

Kelsey Stein

May 13, 2016 at 6:00 AM, updated May 13, 2016 at 6:03 AM

More than two hours after Vernon Madison was scheduled to be put to death Thursday by the state of Alabama, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling upholding a lower court's stay of execution.

Madison's attorneys from the Montgomery-based nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative had been seeking a stay from state and federal courts since the execution date was set in March.

For weeks, their requests had been denied until a federal appellate court granted their petition less than eight hours before Madison was to be put to death.

Madison, one of Alabama's longest-serving death row inmates, was convicted in the April 1985 slaying of Mobile police Cpl. Julius Schulte.

His 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.

In 1994, he was tried for a third and final time and convicted. The jury recommended a life sentence, but the judge overrode the recommendation and sentenced him to death.

www.al.com
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Stays of Execution / Re: Vernon Madison - AL - 5/12...
Last post by phlebbb - May 13, 2016, 12:35:03 AM
US appeals court delays execution for Alabama inmate

BY KIM CHANDLER

 
MONTGOMERY, ALA.
A federal appeals court on Thursday delayed the execution of an Alabama inmate -- just hours before he was scheduled to receive a lethal injection-- in order to review claims that it would be unconstitutional to execute him because he is no longer competent because of strokes and dementia.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the stay about seven hours before Vernon Madison, 65, was scheduled to die at 6 p.m. by lethal injection at a state prison in Atmore. The appellate court said it will hear oral arguments in Madison's case in June. The Alabama attorney general's office responded with an emergency motion to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to let the execution proceed before the death warrant expired at midnight.

Madison was convicted in the 1985 killing of Mobile police Officer Julius Schulte. Schulte had responded to a domestic call involving Madison. Prosecutors said Madison crept up and shot Schulte in the back of the head as he sat in his police car.

Attorneys for the Equal Justice Initiative say that multiple strokes and dementia have left Madison frequently confused and disoriented and unable to understand his pending execution. They said he has an IQ of 72, can no longer walk independently and at one point talked of moving to Florida because he believed he was going to be released from prison.

"Mr. Madison suffers from dementia, has no independent recollection of the offense he was convicted of and consequently does not have a rational understanding of why the State of Alabama is attempting to execute him," attorneys with EJI wrote in the stay request.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, in cases involving inmates with mental illness, that condemned inmates must possess a "rational understanding" that they are about to be executed and why, but left it to lower courts to sort out what that looks like in individual cases.

Attorneys for the state of Alabama asked the U.S. Supreme Court to vacate the stay issued by the 11th Circuit, saying that a lower court found Madison competent and that Madison is falsely claiming the court didn't consider his dementia when ruling he understood his impending execution.

"The Eleventh Circuit appears to have bought into Madison's incorrect representation of the State court's order as having refused to consider evidence of his stroke-related dementia in finding that Madison had a rational understanding of his impending execution," lawyers for the state wrote.

Madison's attorneys argued to the high court that the execution should be stayed because the competency claim has not yet been reviewed on appeal. They said a "quirk of Alabama law" prohibited them from appealing the lower court's finding.

U.S. District Judge Kristi K. DuBose this week agreed with a lower court that Madison could be executed. DuBose cited testimony from a court-appointed expert that Madison could answer questions about his case, despite a decline in his health. She also noted Madison's reported response that, "my lawyers are supposed to be handling that," when the warden came to read him the death warrant.

Madison's attorneys on Thursday had also sought a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing Alabama's sentencing method is similar to one struck down in Florida. The jury in Madison's third trial made an 8-4 recommendation of life in prison, but the trial judge sentenced him to the death penalty. Madison's first two convictions were overturned.

One other inmate in Alabama has been put to death this year after a lull of more than two years because of difficulty obtaining lethal injection drugs and litigation over the death penalty.

Christopher Eugene Brooks was executed in January for the 1992 rape and beating death of 23-year-old Jo Deann Campbell.
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Alabama fights to proceed with execution of cop killer Vernon Madison

 A federal court of appeals this morning stayed tonight's scheduled execution of Mobile cop killer Vernon Madison.

 The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the stay less than eight hours before his execution was set to take place at Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore.

 The Alabama Attorney General's Office, however, is planning to appeal the ruling, Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative which represents Madison, said just after noon today. The U.S. Supreme Court has created a docket for the A.G.'s appeal, but does not yet show any filings or orders.

 A department of corrections spokesman said they were still going through with plans for the execution pending a final order.

 A spokeswoman for the Alabama Attorney General's Office declined comment regarding the appeal.

 Madison had claimed he was mentally incompetent to be executed. His attorneys, from the Montgomery-based nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative, have been seeking a stay from state and federal courts since the execution date was set in March.

 On Wednesday, EJI attorneys filed the petition for a stay and a request for oral argument before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

 The appellate court, in granting that request, noted that Madison's claim could not be raised until the execution was imminent, and that only an Alabama trial court and the federal district court have reviewed the claim.

 In a response to Madison's filing, state attorneys argued that the circuit judge considered all testimony and evidence in reaching the conclusion that Madison possesses a rational understanding of the offense and the execution.

 They say Madison alleges that the circuit judge failed to extend cases of precedent to include stroke-related impairments to mental capacity, rather than psychosis or delusions.

 According to the appellate court's order filed Thursday morning, the court offers two reasons for granting the stay. First, the state court's finding that Madison is competent to be executed "is contrary to or involves an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law." Secondly, the state judge's decision was an unreasonable conclusion based on the evidence presented at the competency hearing.

 The appellate court has now directed the attorneys to file briefs addressing those issues. Madison's attorneys must file by May 27, and the attorney general's office must respond by June 10. Madison's attorneys then will have until June 17 to file a reply.

 Oral argument will take place in Atlanta on June 23, with each side allowed 30 minutes.

www.al.com

This is a long shot.  SCOTUS generally does not step on lower court's toes unless they are bitch slapping the 9th Circus.  ;D
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Death Row Inmate Who Killed Daughter Pursues Clemency

by Johnathan Silver

After the U.S. Supreme Court denied his bid for a new trial on Tuesday, a lawyer for Texas death row inmate Robert Roberson III says his client is seeking clemency from the state's Board of Pardon and Paroles with his June 21 execution date approaching.

Roberson, on death row for killing his two-year-old daughter in 2002, told the high court his right to due process was violated when his trial judge did not allow an expert to testify about mental lapses he suffered due to a brain injury.  :P

"Obviously I'm not happy about the denial of the cert petition," said Seth Kretzer, one of Roberson's attorneys. "That being said, probably 98 percent of all cert petitions get denied. We were hopeful, but you know your odds before going into these things."

The testimony Roberson's expert would have given during his trial, if allowed, could have confused a jury, been misleading or received undue weight, the state had argued in court filings. And even if the judge made a mistake by excluding the testimony, the error probably wouldn't have changed the jury's decision, Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Morris wrote for the state.

The state also contended that the trial court didn't have to admit evidence of mental disease or capacity that would have challenged whether Roberson intentionally killed his daughter, especially because an insanity defense was not used.

Texas does not allow defendants to assert a diminished-capacity defense in which they argue they shouldn't be held responsible because they weren't fully aware of their actions. The state, though, does allow a defendant to argue they did not have the mental ability to have criminal intent, which was Roberson's defense, Kretzer said.

But barring one defense and not the other doesn't make sense, he said.

"Those two concepts are fundamentally opposed," Kretzer said. "If you don't allow diminished capacity, but you do allow someone to show that they didn't have the ability to form the criminal intent, aren't you inherently saying that they have diminished capacity?"

Before this petition, Roberson had another before the high court late last year. During the appeals process, Roberson sought new attorneys, saying his appointed ones, Kretzer and Wes Volberding, were ineffective and had conflicts of interest that prevented them from fully fighting for him. He went to Texas Defender Service, whose attorneys filed a petition with the Supreme Court asking it to order a lower court to appoint a third attorney. The court denied that request in December.

Kretzer said he doesn't expect the parole board to take up the request until closer to the execution date.

www.texastribune.org
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Appeals court delays execution for convicted killer in Alabama


Published May 12, 2016 Associated Press

A federal appeals court delayed the execution of an Alabama inmate on Thursday, saying there should be more time to review his claim that he is no longer competent because of strokes and dementia.  :P

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the stay about seven hours before Vernon Madison, 65, was scheduled to die by lethal injection.

Madison was convicted in the 1985 killing of Mobile police Officer Julius Schulte. Schulte had responded to a domestic call involving Madison. Prosecutors said Madison crept up and shot Schulte in the back of the head as he sat in his police car.

Madison's attorneys had argued that he no longer had a rational understanding of his impending execution. They argued in court filings that he has an IQ of 72, does not independently recall facts of his case and has talked of moving to Florida because he believes he is going to be released from prison.  :P

Attorneys for the state said a lower court, after a hearing, found Madison competent. The appeals court said it will hold oral arguments on Madison's competency in June.

Prosecutors said Madison crept up and shot Schulte in the head as Schulte sat in his police car after responding to a call about a domestic dispute involving Madison.

His attorneys had made a flurry of last-minute legal filings seeking to halt the execution, arguing a judge improperly rejected a jury's 8-4 recommendation of life in prison. The state asked an appellate court to let the execution proceed, arguing Schulte's family and Mobile citizens have waited decades to see "justice carried out."

Madison's attorneys had also argued that Alabama's sentencing method is similar to one struck down in Florida. U.S. Supreme Court justices said Florida gave too much power to judges instead of juries.

Lawyers for the state have argued there are differences in Alabama's capital conviction requirements and sentencing structure that make it legal.

U.S. District Judge Kristi K. DuBose this week agreed with a lower court that Madison was competent and could be executed. DuBose cited testimony from a court-appointed expert that Madison could answer questions about his case, despite a decline in his health. She also noted Madison's reported response that, "my lawyers are supposed to be handling that," when the warden came to read him the death warrant.

www.foxnews.com
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Alabama Supreme Court denies stay of execution for death row inmate Vernon Madison

 The Alabama Supreme Court has denied a request to halt the Thursday execution of a death row inmate convicted of killing a Mobile police officer.

 Vernon Madison, 65, is represented by the Equal Justice Initiative, a Montgomery-based nonprofit law firm that primarily represents prisoners and the poor.

 On Tuesday, EJI attorneys filed a motion seeking a stay of execution from the state Supreme Court, citing two recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings that have "raised fundamental questions about the constitutionality of the use of judicial override in Alabama."

 In January, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Hurst v. Florida that Florida's scheme allowing judges to override a jury's sentencing recommendation in death penalty cases was unconstitutional.

 Alabama has a similar sentencing scheme, though the attorney general's office has noted that it was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1995.

 In another ruling issued May 2, the U.S. Supreme Court granted review of the case of Alabama Death Row inmate Bart Johnson. It was the first Alabama case challenging the state's capital murder sentencing scheme to be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court since Hurst was decided.

 EJI asked that the Alabama Supreme Court grant a stay so that Madison could litigate his challenge to the state's death penalty sentencing scheme and judicial override system.

 In an order issued Wednesday, the court unanimously denied the request.

www.al.com
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Last words and such...

Forrest offered no final words and did not release a statement prior to his death.

His last meal was steak, pasta, a fruit plate, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, as well as a slice of chocolate cake and a glass of milk.

Factoids...

Forrest was the 1st condemned murderer executed in Missouri this year and the 87th since executions resumed.
His was the 14th 2016 US execution and the 1436th since 1976.

The skinny...

Forrest was denied clemency and his appeals were turned away by SCOTUS early Wednesday afternoon...leaving him absolutely no hope the last few hours of his life.  The IV administered kool-ade was delivered right on schedule.

Up next...

Vernon Madison is set to be executed in Alabama this evening for the 1985 murder of Police Officer Julius Schulte.
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BONNE TERRE, Mo. (AP) -- A man who killed two people in a drug dispute and a sheriff's deputy in a subsequent shootout was put to death Wednesday in what could be Missouri's last execution for some time.

Earl Forrest, 66, died by injection for the December 2002 deaths of Harriett Smith, Michael Wells and Dent County Sheriff's Deputy Joann Barnes. He was pronounced dead at 7:18 p.m. CDT, according to the Missouri Department of Corrections.

Forrest's fate was sealed hours before his punishment when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to halt the execution and Democratic Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon turned down a clemency request.

Court documents showed Forrest had been drinking when he went to Smith's home in the southern Missouri town of Salem and demanded that she fulfill her promise to buy a lawn mower and mobile home for him in exchange for introducing her to a source for methamphetamine. Wells was visiting Smith at the time. An argument ensued, and Forrest shot Wells in the face. He shot Smith six times and took a lockbox full of meth valued at $25,000.

When police converged on Forrest's home, he shot Barnes and Dent County Sheriff Bob Wofford, according to court documents. Forrest was shot in the face in the exchange of gunfire. He then put some meth in his mouth, crawled to the door and yelled, "I surrender. We need help. People down."

Forrest's girlfriend, Angela Gamblin, also was shot in the burst of gunfire. She and Wofford survived, along with Forrest.

Missouri has been one of the most prolific states for executions in recent years, second only to Texas. With the execution of Forrest, the state has put 19 men to death since November 2013, including six inmates last year. Forrest was the first in 2016.

Missouri's death row population is dwindling. Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, said juries today are less likely to opt for capital punishment, in part because of greater awareness of how mental illness sometimes factors in violent crime. Just 49 people were sentenced to death nationally last year, the fewest since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty as a possible punishment in 1976. No one was sentenced to death in Missouri in 2014 or 2015, Dunham said.

"As these executions take place, fewer and fewer people are being sentenced to death, so the death penalty is withering on the other end," Dunham said.

None of the 25 other men on Missouri's death row face imminent execution.

Sixteen have yet to exhaust court appeals and aren't likely to do so anytime soon. Execution is on hold for nine others. Two were declared mentally unfit for execution. Two were granted stays because of medical conditions that could cause painful deaths during lethal injection. Two had sentences set aside by the courts due to trial attorney errors. One inmate was granted a stay while his innocence claim is reviewed. One case was sent back to a lower court to consider an appeal.

And in one unusual case, inmate William Boliek was granted a stay by Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahan in 1997. The case wasn't resolved before Carnahan died in a 2000 plane crash, and a court determined that only Carnahan could overturn the stay. Nixon's office has said Boliek will not be executed.

Executions nationally are on the decline. In 1999, 98 people were executed. That fell to just 28 in 2015 -- a 24-year low -- and 13 so far in 2016.
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Earl Forrest is a dead man.  8)
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Latest: Supreme Court won't stop Missouri inmate's execution
   
Updated 3:30 pm, Wednesday, May 11, 2016

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The Latest on the scheduled Missouri execution of a man convicted of killing a sheriff's deputy and two other people in 2002 (all times local):

2:20 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to halt Earl Forrest's execution hours before the Missouri man is scheduled to die by injection.

The court issued its ruling without comment Wednesday. Forrest is scheduled to die Wednesday evening at the state prison in Bonne Terre for the 2002 killings of Harriett Smith and Michael Wells in a drug dispute and Dent County Sheriff's Deputy Joann Barnes in a subsequent shootout at Forrest's home.
 
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, denied a clemency request on Wednesday.

The state has executed 18 men since November 2013, including six last year. Forrest would be the first in 2016.

www.stamfordadvocate.com
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