Dunn v. Madison

By Emma Cummings

Thirty-two years ago, Vernon Madison was charged with the murder of a Mobile, Alabama police officer, Julius Schulte.  He was convicted of capital murder by an Alabama jury and sentenced to death.  Madison was scheduled to be executed on May 12, 2016, but he petitioned the state court to suspend his death sentence on the grounds that he was incompetent to be executed after suffering complications from several strokes.  At the trial court’s hearing, the court’s appointed psychologist reported that “although Madison may have ‘suffered a significant decline post-stroke, . . . [he] understands the exact posture of his case at this point,’ and appears to have a ‘rational understanding of . . . the results or effects’ of his death sentence.”  Additionally, Madison’s own psychologist reported that “Madison’s strokes have rendered him unable to remember ‘numerous events that have occurred over the past thirty years or more,’” but that he ultimately understood what he was tried for, that he was in prison because of murder,  that Alabama was seeking retribution, and that his sentence was the death penalty.  However, Madison’s psychologist stated that “Madison does not ‘understan[d] the act that . . . he is being punished for’ because he cannot recall ‘the sequence of events from the offense to his arrest to the trial or any of those details.’”

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