Alabama Inmate Vernon Madison's Execution Halted Over Concerns of Mental Incompetence

Alabama Inmate Vernon Madison's Execution Halted Over Concerns of Mental Incompetence

A man's execution was halted hours before it was scheduled to take place after his attorneys raised questions in a federal appeals court that he might be mentally incompetent to receive the death penalty.

According to BuzzFeed, Vernon Madison, who was convicted of the 1985 murder of a police officer, was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection at 6 p.m. Thursday. 

A previous request for a stay of execution made by Madison's attorneys was denied Wednesday by the Alabama Supreme Court

Madison's attorneys work for the Equal Justice Initiative, a Montgomery-based nonprofit specializing in providing counsel to prisoners who have been denied just treatment in the legal system.

The institute released a statement Thursday confirming that its request for a stay of execution had been granted.

"It is unconstitutional to execute an individual who is mentally incompetent," the statement reads. "Today, the Eleventh Circuit ordered a stay of Mr. Madison's execution so that it could properly consider the claim that his execution would violate the constitution."

The statement also made clear that Madison's mental condition, after multiple strokes and being diagnosed with dementia, made him unfit for execution.

"Mr. Madison now speaks in slurred manner, is legally blind, and can no longer walk independently as a consequence of damage to his brain," the statement said.

In 1985, Madison was convicted of shooting Police Officer Julius Schulte in the back of the head while sitting in his police car after he had attempted to respond to a domestic disturbance call.