- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 19, 2016

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The Alabama Supreme Court has set a May execution date for a man convicted of shooting a Mobile police officer in the back of the head 30 years ago.

The court set the May 12 execution date for Vernon Madison after the Alabama attorney general’s office said Madison had exhausted his appeals. A federal judge in Alabama last week rejected another Alabama death row inmate’s claim that the state’s lethal injection process is cruel and unusual punishment.

Madison was convicted of killing Mobile police Officer Julius Schulte in 1985. Schulte had responded to a domestic dispute involving Madison. Lawyers for the attorney general’s office said that the trial evidence clearly showed Madison crept up and shot Schulte in the back of the head as he sat in his police car.

However, lawyers wrote in court papers opposing the state’s request for an execution date that Madison has been mentally incapacitated by strokes and untreated mental illness characterized by paranoid delusions.

“Mr. Madison is no longer meaningfully communicating with counsel. He struggles to understand simple information,” lawyers with the Equal Justice Initiative wrote in the court filing submitted earlier this year.

Lawyers for the state, in a court filing, argued that Madison never raised the issue of competence until the state sought an execution date.

“The fact that he waited three weeks after such petition to raise this challenge strongly suggests that his action is brought solely for delay,” lawyers for the state wrote.

Alabama is seeking to resume executions after a more than two-year lull as the state faced a scarcity of lethal injection drugs and ongoing litigation over the death penalty.

The state executed Christopher Eugene Brooks in January for the 1993 rape and beating death of a woman. It was the state’s first execution since 2013.

A federal judge in Alabama last week rejected arguments from death row inmate Tommy Arthur that Alabama’s lethal injection process violated his constitutional rights of equal protection under the law. Lawyers for Arthur had argued, among other things, that the state prison system did not consistently perform a pinch test to check for consciousness before administering the fatal drugs.

U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins wrote in the April 15 opinion that Arthur had not met his burden of proof and pointed to January trial testimony of past execution witnesses

“The credible testimony … establishes that the pinch test has been applied uniformly during executions; simply put, Arthur has not established past disparate treatment or the likelihood of disparate treatment in his own execution,” Watkins wrote.

Arthur was convicted of the 1982 murder-for-hire of a Muscle Shoals man.

Watkins said that another legal claim of Arthur’s - that involving the interplay of the lethal injection drugs and his medical conditions- had yet to be resolved. Watkins said that would be addressed later.

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