New supreme court decision will decide the fate of Vernon Madison


Noah Gaffy

Vernon Madison suffered numerous strokes while in jail after committing murder.

On February 27 of 2019, the Alabama 13th Judicial Circuit made their decision on the case of Madison v. Alabama where new requirements were made in order to execute a prisoner.

In April of 1985, Vernon Madison shot and killed a police officer after a domestic disturbance call was made. Madison was then convicted for his crimes and sentenced to death on three separate occasions. During his sentence in prison, he suffered multiple strokes that rendered him unable to remember the crimes that he had committed.

Officer Julius Schulte was shot and killed after responding to a domestic disturbance call by Vernon Madison

Due to the strokes, Madison developed vascular dementia, which caused his memory loss in the first place. The strokes also left him with slurred speech, blindness, and the inability to walk or go to the bathroom on his own.

Every time Madison was to be executed, he challenged the court by stating that he was mentally incompetent to be executed like it was determined in the case, Ford v. Wainwright, where a prisoner could not be executed if they were mentally incapable of understanding the reason why.

More facts about Ford v. Wainwright can be found here.

Another comparable famous case would be Panetti v. Quarterman. Scott Panetti was convicted of murdering his wife’s parents. In court, Panetti challenged his mental competency saying that he was mentally ill. However, doctors found that Panetti was aware of the crime he had committed and the reasons he was to be executed for, so the court found him mentally competent enough to be executed. However, less than 12 hours before Panetti was to be executed, he was granted relief by the court.

Scott Panetti was sentenced to death after he murdered his wife’s parent with a hunting rifle.

Link to article about Panetti v. Quarterman can be found here.

The new court ruling that was created this February stated that the court is not prohibited from executing a prisoner who does not remember committing the crime, but they are prohibited from executing a prisoner who cannot rationally understand the reason for their execution.

The court is still determining whether or not Madison is mentally competent enough to be executed, and there will be another state court hearing at some point in the near future.