The Latest: Supreme Court blocks execution of Texas inmate
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — The Latest on the reprieve for a member of ‘Texas 7’ gang of escaped prisoners (all times local):
A member of the notorious “Texas 7” gang of escaped prisoners has won a reprieve from execution for the fatal shooting of a suburban Dallas police officer during a Christmas Eve robbery more than 18 years ago.
The U.S. Supreme Court blocked the lethal injection of Patrick Murphy after attorneys for the prisoner argued a Buddhist priest was not allowed to be with Murphy in the death chamber as he was being put to death.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh, in an opinion Thursday night, said inmates of other religious denominations who want their religious adviser to be present can have the adviser present only in the viewing room and not in the execution room itself for their executions.
Kavanaugh said that, in his view, the Constitution prohibits such denominational discrimination.
Murphy was convicted in the December 2000 death of Irving police Officer Aubrey Hawkins.
The 57-year-old Murphy was part of a group of inmates who escaped from a South Texas prison in December 2000 and committed numerous robberies before being captured, including the one during which they killed Hawkins.
Attorneys for a Texas death row inmate have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay his lethal injection until a Buddhist minister can be present with him in the execution chamber.
Patrick Murphy’s lawyers argue that executing the 57-year-old “Texas 7” member without his spiritual adviser present would violate his right to religious freedom. Murphy became a Buddhist almost a decade ago while incarcerated.
A federal appeals court on Wednesday denied a request to stay his execution on the same grounds, upholding a lower court decision.
Murphy is scheduled to be executed Thursday evening at the state penitentiary in Huntsville. He was convicted in the shooting death of a Dallas-area police officer during a Christmas Eve robbery in 2000.
Attorneys for a death row inmate say his pending execution is unconstitutional because he never fatally shot a suburban Dallas police officer during a Christmas Eve robbery more than 18 years ago.
Patrick Murphy’s lawyers say the 57-year-old shouldn’t be executed Thursday night because he wasn’t a major participant in the December 2000 robbery in which Irving police Officer Aubrey Hawkins was killed by the notorious “Texas 7” gang of escaped prisoners.
If Murphy’s appeals fail and he is executed, he’d be the fourth person put to death in the U.S. this year.
Murphy was convicted under Texas’ law of parties, which holds a person criminally responsible for the actions of another if they are engaged in a conspiracy.