Muslim man executed after US Supreme Court denies request for imam's presence

Death row inmate Domineque Ray 42 is shown in this booking

Death row inmate Domineque Ray 42 is shown in this booking

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.

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.

The three-judge Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals panel issued a stay of execution over concerns that Alabama may have violated the establishment clause of the Constitution.

Ray, age 42, was convicted of murdering. robbing, and raping 15-year-old Tiffany Harville on July 15, 1995.

It was not immediately clear if the state of Alabama would go through with the execution on Thursday night following the Supreme Court order.

Dominique Ray was scheduled to be executed tonight at 6:00 p.m.at Holman Prison. But that time passed without word from the U.S. Supreme Court on the state's request to proceed with the planned lethal injection.

The state granted Ray's request to bar the Christian prison chaplain from being present in the chamber.

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Ray's attorneys filed a challenge to the execution ruling last week, but a lower court denied the challenge, saying "the risk posed by allowing another cleric into the execution chamber" was too much for Alabama to handle.

Responding to a defence request, the state said Ray had access to a Quran, and he was allowed to take a prayer mat into a holding cell as officials waited on the court to rule.

The state is asking the justices to lift a stay Ray won on religious grounds after asking to have his imam in the execution chamber instead of a Christian prison chaplain. Kagan, who was joined in the dissent by the Court's liberal judges, asked, "Why wouldn't it be sufficient for the imam to pledge, under the penalty of contempt, that he will not interfere with the State's ability to perform the execution?" It says his lawsuit was an attempt to delay the execution, originally set for Thursday evening.

Ray was sentenced to death for the slaying of 15-year-old Tiffany Harville.

Ray's attorneys had also asked in legal filings to stay the execution on other grounds.

The Alabama attorney general's office on Wednesday asked justices to vacate an execution stay for Dominique Ray. Ray's execution was scheduled for Thursday.

Ray was convicted in the 1995 death of 15-year-old Tiffany Harville. But, according to a report from ProPublica, Ray's lawyers have claimed that the attorney representing their client did not adequately defend him, that prosecutors withheld evidence of other suspects, and that the state withheld evidence casting doubt on the testimony of a critical witness, who was suffering from schizophrenia when he testified.

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