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The execution of a member of the 'Texas 7' gang of escaped prisoners over a policeman's killing 18 years ago has been halted this evening after a Buddhist priest was not allowed into the execution chamber.
Patrick Murphy, 57, had been scheduled to receive a lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas on Thursday at 6pm.
Life - Shots
He said his life should be spared because he didn't fire the fatal shots.
The death row inmate, who became a Buddhist almost a decade ago while incarcerated, had also asked that his execution be stopped until prison officials allow his spiritual advisor to be with him when he is put to death.
Minute - Supreme - Court - Execution - Thursday
And in a last minute ruling the Supreme Court stopped the execution Thursday evening based on the decision to not allow a Buddhist priest into the execution chamber.
They said the Texas Department of Criminal Justice had violated his religious rights, The Texas Tribune reports.
Prison - Employees - Execution - Chamber - Christian
Only prison employees are allowed in the execution chamber and only Christian and Muslim clerics are employed by the state.
His lawyers had alleged the officials' actions violate Murphy's First Amendment right to freedom of religion and the request had been turned down by a federal judge in Houston and by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
Murphy - Lawyer - David - Dow - Thursday
Murphy's lawyer, David Dow, said Thursday: 'We are pleased the Supreme Court acknowledged...that Mr Murphy as a Buddhist is entitled to be accompanied in the execution chamber during the execution by a minister of his own faith.'
Murphy was among seven inmates who escaped from a South Texas prison and fatally shot 29-year-old Dallas police officer Aubrey Hawkins during a Christmas Eve robbery in 2000.
Murphy - Getaway - Driver - Crime - Spree
Murphy said he was only the getaway driver during the crime spree and was not the one who shot the officer...
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