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Supreme Court to Hear Appeal of Death Row Inmate with Dementia

On Behalf of | Mar 1, 2018 | Criminal Defense, Criminal Defense |

When a death row inmate is executed, there is an expectation and legal requirement that the individual has a rational understanding that he or she is about to be executed and why he or she is facing execution. Most inmates remember their crime, and they are able to answer in the affirmative that they understand the reason for their punishment. However, one Alabama man is proving to be an exception to this understanding. Now, his lawyers argue that because he suffers from dementia, and does not remember his crime over 30 years ago, that he is unfit for execution. The U.S. Supreme Court must now decide if Vernon Madison will die by lethal injection.

The Crime

In 1985, a Mobile, Alabama police officer responded to a domestic dispute at the home of Vernon Madison’s then-girlfriend because she had reported a missing child. As the police officer sat in his patrol car, Madison crept up behind him and put two bullets into his head, killing him. Madison was tried and convicted and sentenced to death by a judge.

Lethal Injection Attempts

Madison was supposed to be executed by lethal injection back in 2016, but the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals halted the execution merely seven hours before it was supposed to happen. Their ruling was that Madison was incompetent due to his mental health condition.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in November of 2017 that his execution could go ahead because Madison recognizes that he will be put to death as punishment for the murder he committed, even though he doesn’t remember the specific crime itself.

The Argument Against Execution

Madison’s lawyers argue that the 67-year-old man is unfit for execution due to a series of strokes that have brought on blindness and dementia, in addition to a host of other physical ailments. His current execution has been halted on the appeal of his attorneys that “killing a fragile man suffering from dementia is cruel and unnecessary.”

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case to determine whether executing him would violate the eighth amendment, which protects against cruel and unusual punishment.

If you have been convicted of a crime and you feel that your trial counsel was ineffective or your sentence is more severe than the law allows, you may be eligible for post-conviction relief, and you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can assist you with your case.


Lawyer: Condemned Alabama inmate doesn’t remember crime. (2018, January 19). Retrieved February 27, 2018, from

Staff, C. (2018, February 26). Supreme Court will hear case of death row inmate with dementia. Retrieved February 27, 2018, from

Reporter, S. P. (2018, February 27). Death row inmate who has forgotten he killed a police officer shouldn’t be executed, say lawyers. Retrieved February 27, 2018, from

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