US judge: Muslim can be executed without imam

The state of Alabama is not obliged to bring in an imam in connection with the execution of a Muslim man sentenced to death, a federal judge states.

Judge Keith Watkins gives Alabama the go-ahead to execute an execution scheduled for next week. Convicted Dominique Ray filed a postponement petition and believed his religious rights were violated. His reason is that a Christian prison priest is normally present at executions, while the state refuses to let an imam stay in the room when Ray gets the gunshot.


The priest is employed by the prison, and Judge Watkins concluded that the state has the right to restrict access to the execution chamber of its own staff for reasons of security.

Convicted prisoners can get a visit from a soulmate before the execution, and the person can witness the actual execution through a glass wall. But it is only the priest who can be with the inmate in the room where the syringe is put.

Watkins decided that the priest should not enter when Ray is to be executed. This had already opened the prison. The court documents suggest that Ray will appeal the ruling.


The 42-year-old is scheduled to be executed on Thursday for the knife kill of 15-year-old Tiffany Harville in 1995. The girl was missing for a month before being found killed. Ray was sentenced to death in 1999 after co-accused Marcus Owden told police that the two men had taken the girl out for an evening on the town and raped her. He said Ray then killed her.

Owden accepted punishment and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

(© NTB)

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