ATMORE, Ala. (WHNT and AP) — Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced Thursday evening just after 10:00 p.m. that inmate Dominique Ray was executed.
He was executed for the 1995 murder of 15-year-old Tiffany Harville.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday rejected claims from the Muslim inmate who said his religious rights were being violated, clearing the way for the lethal injection to go forward Thursday night. In a 5-4 decision, justices vacated a stay issued by a lower court that had been blocking the execution of Dominique Ray, 42.
Ray argued Alabama’s execution procedure favors Christian inmates because a Christian chaplain employed by the prison typically remains in the execution chamber during a lethal injection, but the state would not let his imam be present.
Justice Elena Kagan wrote in a dissent that the dissenting justice considered the decision to let the execution go forward “profoundly wrong.”
Attorneys for the state said Ray had ample opportunity to visit with his imam before his scheduled execution, that only prison employees are allowed in the chamber for security reasons, and that the imam can visit him before he’s led to the execution chamber and witness the execution from an adjoining room.
Prison system spokesman Bob Horton said Ray was visited by his imam both Wednesday and Thursday and that Ray again renewed a request to have the adviser present — the request that has been denied.
Other states generally allow spiritual advisers to accompany condemned inmates up to the execution chamber but not into it, said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, which studies capital punishment in the United States.
Durham said did not know of any other state where the execution protocol calls for a Christian chaplain to be present in the execution chamber.
Ray was sentenced to death for the slaying of 15-year-old Tiffany Harville. The girl disappeared from her Selma home in July 1995, and her decomposing body was found in a cotton field a month later.
Ray was convicted in 1999 after another man, Marcus Owden, confessed to his role in the crime and implicated Ray. Owden told police that they had picked the girl up for a night out on the town and then raped her. Owden said that Ray cut the girl’s throat. Owden pleaded guilty to murder, testified against Ray and is serving a life sentence without parole.
A jury recommended the death penalty for Ray by an 11-1 vote.
Ray’s attorneys had also asked in legal filings to stay the execution on other grounds. Lawyers say it was not disclosed to the defense team that records from a state psychiatric facility suggested Owden suffered from schizophrenia and delusions.
The Supreme Court also rejected that claim Thursday.
After being notified that Mr. Ray’s sentence had been carried out, Governor Kay Ivey released the following statement:
“It is my duty as the Governor of Alabama to uphold the laws of our state. A role I hold with much reverence is ensuring that justice is done, by both the victims and the convicted. Due to the nature of his crime, the decision of a jury to condemn him to death and because our legal system has worked as designed, Mr. Ray’s sentence was carried out.
Mr. Ray was convicted by a jury of his peers of killing Tiffany Harville after taking her from the safety of her home. Courts at every level have upheld Mr. Ray’s conviction for his senseless act. Accordingly, the laws of this state have been carried out. It is my prayer that, with tonight’s events, the Miss Harville’s family can finally have closure.”
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall issued the following statement Thursday night:
“For 20 years, Domineque Ray has successfully eluded execution for the barbaric murder of a 15-year-old Selma girl,” said Attorney General Marshall. “In 1995, Ray brutally deprived young Tiffany Harville of her life, repeatedly stabbing and raping her before leaving her body in a cotton field. A jury gave him a death sentence for this heinous crime. A year before, Ray had also taken the lives of two teenage brothers, Reinhard and Earnest Mabins. Tonight, Ray’s long-delayed appointment with justice is finally met.”