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Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

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Update: Robert Pruett was executed by lethal injection on Thursday.
Robert Pruett is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas Thursday. He has never had a chance to live outside a prison as an adult. Taking his life is a senseless wrong that shows how badly the justice system fails juveniles.
Mr. Pruett was 15 years old when he last saw the outside world, after being arrested as an accomplice to a murder committed by his own father. Now 38, having been convicted of a murder while incarcerated, he will be put to death. At a time when the Supreme Court has begun to recognize excessive punishments for juveniles as unjust, Mr. Pruett’s case shows how young lives can be destroyed by a justice system that refuses to give second chances.
Mr. Pruett’s father, Sam Pruett, spent much of Mr. Pruett’s early childhood in prison. Mr. Pruett and his three siblings were raised in various trailer parks by his mother, who he has said used drugs heavily and often struggled to feed the children. Wh…

Alabama death row inmate loses state appeal, days after federal court says he can't be executed

Vernon Madison
Vernon Madison
The Alabama Supreme Court on Friday denied the appeal of Alabama Death Row inmate Vernon Madison, just two days after a federal court said he was incompetent and couldn't be executed anyway.

Madison, 66, is one of Alabama's longest-serving death row inmates. He was convicted in the April 1985 slaying of Mobile police Cpl. Julius Schulte.

The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals in December denied Madison's appeal that his sentence was unconstitutional under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from a case (Hurst v. Florida) in January 2016. The court ruled that juries, not judges, should decide whether a capital murder defendant is eligible for the death penalty.

Alabama authorities say that Alabama's law is different. While Alabama judges can decide to override jury recommendations for life without parole and instead impose the death penalty, the juries first decide whether aggravating circumstances exist to make a case death penalty eligible with their unanimous guilty verdict.

Madison's lawyers appealed the Alabama Criminal Court of Appeals decision to the Alabama Supreme Court.

The Alabama Supreme Court on Friday, with Justice Glenn Murdock dissenting, denied Madison's petition for certiorari (or review).

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday had ruled that Madison is mentally incompetent and can't be executed.

Last May the appeals court halted Madison's execution, hours before he was set to die, in order to consider his appeal of a state court's ruling that he was competent to be executed.

Madison was convicted and sentenced to death in both 1985 and 1990, but both times an appellate court sent the case back, first for a violation involving race-based jury selection and then based on improper testimony from an expert witness for the prosecution.

A doctor hired by Madison's attorneys with the Equal Justice Initiative, Dr. John Goff, had testified at a state competency trial in 2016 that Madison does not understand why he is being executed or the act for which he is being punished, according to the 11th Circuit opinion.

Madison has suffered strokes resulting in significant cognitive and physical decline, according to the appeals court ruling.

Source: al.com, Kent Faulk, March 17, 2017

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