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Appeals court blocks Alabama execution of Muslim inmate

MONTGOMERY: A federal appeals courtroom on Wednesday blocked the planned execution of an Alabama inmate to consider whether or not the state was violating the Muslim inmate's rights by way of now not permitting an imam to interchange a Christian penal complex chaplain in the loss of life chamber.

The 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals granted a keep for Dominique Ray, 42, a day prior to his scheduled execution for the slaying of a youngster greater than 20 years in the past. The Alabama legal professional basic's place of business on Wednesday afternoon requested the US Supreme Court to vacate the keep and let the execution proceed Thursday night time.

Ray objected to Alabama's observe of permitting a Christian penal complex chaplain, who's a jail gadget worker, to face close to the inmate all through the lethal injection and to wish with the inmate if the inmate requests that. Ray requested to usher in his imam to face close to him all through the process, but was informed he may now not because most effective penal complex staff have been allowed in the execution chamber.

A three-judge panel of judges wrote that it was ``exceedingly loath to exchange our judgment on penal complex procedures.'' But, they added that it ``appears substantially more likely to us that Alabama has run afoul of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.''

"The central constitutional downside here is that the state has incessantly positioned a Christian cleric in the execution room to minister to the desires of Christian inmates, but has refused to provide the same benefit to a religious Muslim and all different non-Christians,'' the three-judge panel wrote.

The Alabama bankruptcy of the Council on American-Islamic Relations mentioned it supported Ray's bid to have an Islamic chief present.

"We welcome this choice and hope Mr. Ray will in the end be supplied equivalent get entry to to non secular guidance,'' Ali Massoud, government affairs coordinator for CAIR-Alabama, mentioned in a statement.

In the request to vacate the keep, the Alabama legal professional basic's place of business mentioned the state does now not allow non-prison gadget staff in the execution chamber, but agreed to take away the chaplain from the chamber all through Ray's execution.

The state mentioned all inmates can discuss with with their very own religious adviser prior to an execution, and feature them witness the execution from an adjoining room.

"Like every other inmate, Ray has been and will likely be given alternatives to speak together with his religious adviser, together with up-to-the-minute that he is taken into the chamber,'' state attorneys wrote.

An preliminary filing with the Supreme Court mentioned the state had changed its process to accommodate the 11th Circuit order, but an amended filing did not come with that language.

Robert Dunham, government director of the Death Penalty Information Center, which studies capital punishment in the U.S., mentioned different states usually allow religious or religious advisers to accompany the inmate up to the execution chamber but now not into it. Instead the adviser can view the execution, as do others, from a delegated space.

He did not know of every other states the place the execution protocol requires a Christian chaplain to be present in the execution chamber.

Ray was convicted in the deadly stabbing of a 15-year-old Tiffany Harville who disappeared from her Selma house in July 1995. Her decomposing frame was present in a field a month later.

Ray was convicted in 1999 after co-defendant Marcus Owden informed police that they had picked the lady up for an evening out on the town after which raped her. Owden mentioned that Ray cut the lady's throat. Owden pleaded guilty to murder, testified in opposition to Ray and is serving a existence sentence without parole.

Ray's criminal group on Wednesday requested the U.S. Supreme Court to stick the execution on different grounds.

They argued it was now not disclosed to the defense group that records from a state psychiatric facility urged Owden suffered from schizophrenia and delusions. Attorneys requested the Supreme Court to halt the execution to examine whether or not the state had a duty to seek out and produce the ideas.

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