Source: The New York Times
A federal appeals court in Alabama on Wednesday delayed the execution of a Muslim inmate who said the prison was violating his religious rights by barring an imam from being present during the lethal injection.
The death row prisoner, Domineque Ray, was scheduled to be executed on Thursday evening for raping and murdering a 15-year-old girl in 1995, according to court documents. He has been imprisoned at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Ala., for nearly 20 years.
In Wednesday’s order, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit found that Mr. Ray, 42, had a “powerful” claim that the prison’s refusal to allow the presence of an imam in the execution chamber violated his constitutional rights. The panel reversed a District Court decision that refused Mr. Ray a stay of execution, maintaining that he had waited too long to bring his legal claim against the prison’s commissioner.
According to court documents, a prison warden explained the policies around death penalty proceedings to Mr. Ray on Jan. 23. At that point, the warden refused his requests to have an imam with him in the execution chamber and to exclude the state-employed chaplain from the room.