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Alabama executes inmate who wanted imam present

Authorities say 42-year-old Dominique Ray was pronounced dead Thursday night of a lethal injection at the state prison in Atmore.

Posted: Feb 7, 2019 8:18 PM
Updated: Feb 7, 2019 10:26 PM

ATMORE, Ala. (AP) - 

10:15 p.m.

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

Authorities say 42-year-old Dominique Ray was pronounced dead Thursday night of a lethal injection at the state prison in Atmore.

Ray's attorneys had challenged Alabama's execution procedure, saying it favors Christian inmates because a Christian chaplain employed by the prison typically is in the chamber during an execution. Ray requested an imam instead but that was denied. The state said it refuses to let a non-prison employee into the execution room, but agreed not to have the chaplain present.

Ray's spiritual adviser watched from an adjoining witness room.

The U.S. Supreme Court overruled a lower court decision Wednesday staying the execution plans.

Ray was convicted of the 1995 murder of 15-year-old Tiffany Harville.

___

8:20 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court has cleared the way for Alabama to proceed with the execution of a Muslim inmate who had wanted his spiritual adviser to be present in the execution chamber.

Justices on Thursday evening vacated a lower court's stay with a 5-4 decision.

The Alabama Department of Corrections plans to carry out the execution of Dominique Ray on Thursday night.

Ray asked to have his imam replace a prison chaplain in the execution chamber. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the execution Wednesday to weigh whether Alabama procedures favored Christian inmates.

A majority of justices voted to let the execution proceed.

___

6:45 p.m.

A condemned Muslim inmate received a visit from his imam and made a final request to have the spiritual adviser present in the execution chamber if the prisoner's lethal injection is carried out.

Prison system spokesman Bob Horton said 42-year-old inmate Dominique Ray was visited by his imam Wednesday and Thursday. Horton says that for his final request, Ray again asked to have that spiritual adviser beside him in the death chamber, a request the state has denied.

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

A lower federal court on Wednesday had stayed the execution to consider whether Alabama's death procedures favor Christian inmates. The state allows a prison chaplain in the chamber. But it rejected a request for Ray's imam to be present, saying it doesn't allow non-prison employees in the death chamber - only in an adjoining witness room.

___

2:15 p.m.

The state of Alabama says a Muslim inmate has access to a Quran as he waits to see whether the U.S. Supreme Court will allow his lethal injection.

A court document says a copy of the Islamic holy book is available to 42-year-old Dominique Ray. It says Ray also was allowed to take a prayer mat into a holding cell.

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.

The state argues Ray can visit with his imam beforehand. It says his lawsuit was an attempt to delay the execution, originally set for Thursday evening.

Ray was condemned for the 1995 murder of 15-year-old Tiffany Harville.

___

9:20 a.m.

Alabama is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to let it proceed with the execution of an inmate who won a stay on religious 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, who is Muslim, is asking that his imam replace a Christian prison chaplain who stays in the execution chamber during a lethal injection.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the execution to weigh whether Alabama's procedures favor Christian inmates.

Alabama said it only allows prison employees in the chamber for security reasons. The state said Ray's imam can visit him beforehand and witness the execution from an adjoining room.

Ray was convicted in the 1995 death of 15-year-old Tiffany Harville.

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