A Muslim inmate in Alabama has asked a court to postpone his execution, claiming the state has violated his rights by not allowing an imam to be present when he his put to death, instead of a Christian cleric.
Dominique Ray, 42, who is scheduled to be executed on February 7 for raping and killing a teenage girl in 1995, also claimed that prison officials nixed his request not to have the Christian chaplain present during his execution.
His attorneys filed a lawsuit against the Alabama Department of Corrections, and asked the judge to halt his execution while the court considers his claim.
The response from the department, however, was that Ray would receive the same treatment as other non-Christian inmates. Only a correctional officer and the prison chaplain are allowed to be in the death chamber “regardless of the chaplain’s spiritual belief or that of the inmate,” a spokesman said in an email.
Under Alabama prison rules, inmates can only have their own spiritual adviser witness the execution through the window of an adjoining room.
Tiffany Harville, 15, vanished after being picked up by Ray and his friend Marcus Owden for a night out in July 1995. Her body was found in a field a month later.
Later, Owden confessed to police that they raped the girl, and Ray had cut her throat and taken her purse, which contained $6 or $7. Ray was sentenced to death, while Owden is serving a life sentence without parole.
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