Late Thursday, Alabama put to death a Muslim inmate who lost his legal challenge to have an imam in the chamber with him during his execution.
Domineque Ray, 42, was convicted in 1999 of the rape and murder of 15-year-old Tiffany Harville in Selma, Alabama. His lawyers filed a lawsuit last week arguing that Ray's rights were being violated because the prison would not let his imam go into the execution chamber with him. In Alabama, a Christian chaplain, employed by the prison, is typically in the chamber during executions. Attorneys for the state argued that for security reasons, prison employees are the only ones allowed to be in the chamber; ultimately, the state agreed to keep the chaplain out during Ray's execution.
On Wednesday, an appeals court stayed the execution, but the Supreme Court voted 5-4 on Thursday evening to let the execution proceed, saying it was because Ray did not bring up his religious argument until Jan. 28, The Associated Press reports. In a dissent, Justice Elena Kagan said she found it "profoundly wrong" that the execution was going forward under such circumstances. Ray's imam was in the witness room next to the chamber during the execution.
Alabama Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn said the state has never encountered an inmate who had a problem with the chaplain being in the execution chamber, AP reports, and they will examine the procedures to see if anything should be changed.