Patrick Murphy, who was one the “Texas 7”, a murderous band of prison escapees was on Thursday, 28th March 2019 been granted stay of Texas’s execution by the Supreme Court. The court ordered the state to allow a Buddhist spiritual adviser to accompany him to the execution chamber.
Patrick Murphy who is aged 57 was convicted for his role in the killing of a police officer at a sporting goods store on Christmas Eve in 2000 after escaping from a maximum-security prison days earlier.
The decision to stay the Texas’s execution order until the state provide him a Buddhist adviser was reached by the court more than an hour after Murphy had been scheduled to die by lethal injection at the state’s prison facility in Huntsville.
In a ruling which was dissented by two (Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch) of the nine judges, Justice Brett Kavanaugh ruled that, “As this court has repeatedly held, governmental discrimination against religion — in particular, discrimination against religious persons, religious organizations, and religious speech — violates the Constitution.”
The ruling is however in contrast to what was obtainable by a ruling in February where Supreme Court judges denied a request by a condemned inmate who was a Muslin for an imam to accompany him at the execution chambers after justices voted 5 – 4 to allow execution in Alabama to proceed with granting the request.
In making clarifications to the difference in ruling in the case of Patrick Murphy, Justice Brett Kavanaugh stated that the request in the case of Patrick Murphy came in a “sufficiently timely manner, one month before the scheduled execution.”
In the case filed to the Supreme Court by Patrick Murphy’s lawyer, David Dow, on Thursday, 28th March, 2019, he made a passionate plea by saying that, “If a stay is not granted, Patrick Murphy will suffer irreparable injury because he will be executed under circumstances that violate his First Amendment and statutory rights to freedom of religion.”
In his ruling, Justice Brett Kavanaugh elaborated by saying, “Texas allows a Christian or Muslim religious adviser for a condemned inmate to be present in either in the execution room or in the adjacent viewing room. But inmates of other religious faiths, such as Patrick Murphy, a Buddhist, were not allowed to have their religious adviser in the viewing room, “In my view, the Constitution prohibits such denominational discrimination.”
With this ruling, Patrick Murphy execution would have to be rescheduled because the ruling came after the expiration of the death warrant. This however means that the case will be returned to the district court level, and the execution rescheduled.
According to the court documents, Patrick Murphy was serving a 50-year sentence for aggravated sexual assault when he and six other inmates broke out of maximum- security prison in Kennedy, Texas, on 13th December, 2000. Eleven days after Patrick Murphy and the other six inmates escaped from jail, they were reported to have robbed a sporting goods store in Irving and a police officer identified as Aubrey Hawkins who was aged 31 at the time was shot and killed by the group as they fled. They were apprehended about a month later at a Colorado mobile home park, where one of the escapees committed suicide. Murphy was sentenced to die in 2003 after he was convicted of capital murder of a police officer.
According to prosecutors, Patrick Murphy was in a vehicle, serving as a lookout and did not shoot the police officer during the robbery. However, Patrick Murphy was convicted under the state’s laws of parties – a law that holds a person criminally responsible if they act as an accomplice to a crime.