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Alabama executes Muslim inmate who wanted imam present

MGN Online

A Muslim inmate who filed a legal challenge because Alabama wouldn't let his Islamic spiritual adviser be present in the execution chamber was put to death Thursday after the nation's highest court cleared the way.

Posted: Feb 8, 2019 10:10 AM

ATMORE, Ala. (AP) — A Muslim inmate who filed a legal challenge because Alabama wouldn't let his Islamic spiritual adviser be present in the execution chamber was put to death Thursday after the nation's highest court cleared the way.

Dominique Ray, 42, was pronounced dead at 10:12 p.m. of a lethal injection at the state prison in Atmore.

Ray had argued Alabama's execution procedure favors Christian inmates because a Christian chaplain employed by the prison typically remains in the execution chamber during a lethal injection, but the state would not let his imam be there in the room.

Attorneys for the state said only prison employees are allowed in the chamber for security reasons.

Ray's imam, Yusef Maisonet, watched the execution from an adjoining witness room, after visiting with Ray over the past two days. There was no Christian chaplain in the chamber, a concession the state agreed to make.

Strapped to a gurney in the death chamber, Ray was asked by the warden if he had any final words. The inmate said an Islamic statement of his faith in Arabic.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday had stayed the execution over the religious arguments, but the U.S. Supreme Court allowed it to proceed in a 5-4 decision Thursday evening. Justices cited the fact that Ray did not raise the challenge until Jan. 28 as a reason for the decision.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote in a dissent that she considered the decision to let the execution go forward "profoundly wrong."

Other states generally allow spiritual advisers to accompany condemned inmates up to the execution chamber but not into it, said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, which studies capital punishment in the United States.

Durham said did not know of any other state where the execution protocol calls for a Christian chaplain to be present in the execution chamber.

Alabama Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn said this is the first time the state has had an objection to the chaplain's presence. He said the state will review procedures to determine if something needs to be changed.

Ray was sentenced to death for the 1995 rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl. Tiffany Harville disappeared from her Selma home on July 15, 1995, and her decomposing body was found one month later in a cotton field.

It was Alabama's first execution of the year.

Ray was convicted in 1999 after another man, Marcus Owden, confessed to his role in the crime and implicated Ray. Owden told police that they had picked the girl up for a night out on the town and then raped her. Owden said that Ray cut the girl's throat. Owden pleaded guilty to murder, testified against Ray and is serving a life sentence without parole.

A jury recommended the death penalty for Ray by an 11-1 vote.

Ray's attorneys had also asked in legal filings to stay the execution on other grounds. Lawyers said it was not disclosed to the defense team that records from a state psychiatric facility suggested Owden suffered from schizophrenia and delusions. The Supreme Court also rejected the request.

Spencer Hahn, one of Ray's attorneys, said he was appalled that Ray received unequal treatment at his death because he was a member of a religious minority,

"Domineque was a devout Muslim and a human being. He was a son, a father, a brother. He wanted equal treatment in his last moments," Hahn wrote in a statement.

Ray's legal team said his first name was Domineque. The prison system used a different spelling, citing court records.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall issued a statement saying he was pleased the court let the execution proceed.

"For 20 years, Domineque Ray has successfully eluded execution for the barbaric murder of a 15-year-old Selma girl. ...Tonight, Ray's long-delayed appointment with justice is finally met," Marshall said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 501097

Reported Deaths: 9990
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34338538
DeSoto32117403
Hinds31939628
Jackson24494382
Rankin21995390
Lee15543235
Madison14581280
Jones13851242
Forrest13453251
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Lowndes11050188
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Washington7438158
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Monroe6777177
Warren6694176
Pontotoc6664102
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Panola6531131
Marshall6467134
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George496879
Scott472898
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Clay308076
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Holmes267987
Smith264050
Yalobusha234047
Tallahatchie228051
Greene219348
Walthall218763
Lawrence212940
Perry205556
Amite205156
Webster202946
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Montgomery179656
Jefferson Davis171743
Carroll169138
Tunica159839
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Kemper141941
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Claiborne132737
Humphreys129538
Franklin120228
Quitman106428
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94534
Sharkey64120
Issaquena1937
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 820011

Reported Deaths: 15407
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1148361924
Mobile726091339
Madison52337697
Shelby37622350
Baldwin37258552
Tuscaloosa35117612
Montgomery34116740
Lee23536246
Calhoun22232488
Morgan20952378
Etowah19834500
Marshall18372304
Houston17390412
St. Clair16064339
Cullman15454293
Limestone15349199
Elmore15264286
Lauderdale14314295
Talladega13842283
DeKalb12662261
Walker11206370
Blount10197176
Autauga10047148
Jackson9874184
Coffee9211191
Dale8900185
Colbert8871201
Tallapoosa7089198
Escambia6775134
Covington6713183
Chilton6645162
Russell637059
Franklin5962105
Chambers5610142
Marion5007127
Dallas4975200
Pike4796106
Clarke475784
Geneva4574127
Winston4519103
Lawrence4324117
Bibb425286
Barbour357876
Marengo338390
Monroe331564
Randolph329764
Butler326496
Pickens316384
Henry312766
Hale311688
Cherokee302860
Fayette294180
Washington251651
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245275
Clay243368
Macon234863
Lamar224447
Conecuh186253
Coosa180240
Lowndes175364
Wilcox168939
Bullock151744
Perry138840
Sumter133238
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
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