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An inmate on death row for killing a police officer in Alabama, USA may be spared from execution as he has no memory of the crimes he committed.
67-year-old Vernon Madison, who suffers from dementia, was spared from execution with 30 minutes to spare last month after the US' highest court, the Supreme Court, granted him a temporary stay.
Madison's fate is now set to be decided by the court who will rule whether or not his execution constitutes 'cruel and unusual punishment' and if it would thereby be unconstitutional.
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Madison has been on death row for over thirty years after he was convicted in 1985 for shooting and killing police officer Julius Schulte, The Mirror reported.
Madison was sentenced to death in his third trial in 1994 after his first two convictions were thrown out for racial discrimination in jury selection and other misconduct by prosecutors.
In the years since he was prosecuted for his crime, Madison has suffered several strokes. These have left him with dementia as well as blind, unable to walk unaided and with speaking problems, according to the newspaper.
Madison's lawyers at the Equal Justice Initiative are now arguing that he has been left not only unable to remember his crimes but also unable to understand the punishment he has been given - the case the Supreme Court has now taken up.
"It is undisputed that Mr. Madison suffers from vascular dementia as a result of multiple serious strokes in the last two years and no longer has a memory of the commission of the crime for which he is to be executed," the EJI request states according to AL.com.
"[He] does not rationally understand why the State of Alabama is attempting to execute him," they added.
The US Supreme Court has previously ruled that executing people with some severe mental illnesses or cognitive impairments would violate the ban on 'cruel and unusual punishment'.
In 2016, the Alabama-based Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that that Madison's memory loss meant he was no longer eligible for execution.
The Supreme Court overturned this last November, saying it had not set precedent that "a prisoner is incompetent to be executed because of a failure to remember his commission of the crime."
The court is now set to reconsider the case after Madison's attorneys asked them to clarify whether it would be constitutional to execute someone with dementia and cognitive decline.
Featured Image Credit: Ken Piorkowski/Wikimedia Commons
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