Appeals Court Declines To Lift Stay Of Execution For Texas 7 Inmate Patrick Murphy

L.P. Phillips
November 13, 2019 - 1:42 pm
Patrick Murphy

Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP

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DALLAS (1080 KRLD) - The 5th Circuit US Court of Appeals has declined to lift the stay of execution for Texas 7 inmate Patrick Murphy, origionally scheduled for death tonight.

In a split decision, the court examined a Federal Judge's ruling that Murphy had been denied the same religious rights as other inmates.

"The district court conducted a thorough examination of this case and found that a stay was warranted. We find no error or abuse of discretion in its analysis and agree that it should be allowed time “to explore and resolve serious factual concerns about the balance between Murphy’s religious rights and the prison’s valid concerns for security. Murphy has a strong likelihood of success on the merits of his claim. Taking strong direction from the Supreme Court’s earlier decision staying Murphy’s execution, we decline to rush this significant inquiry." the court said in its opinion.

Murphy's execution was put on hold earlier this year because he was denied the right to have a Buddhist Monk in the execution chamber. At the time, Christian and Muslim inmates were allowed to have spiritual advisors during their final moments. In an opinion, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh also offered "...at least two possible equal-treatment remedies available to the State going forward: (1) allow all inmates to have a religious adviser of their religion in the execution room; or (2) allow inmates to have a religious adviser, including any state-employed chaplain, only in the viewing room, not the execution room." the opinion said.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice made adjustments, banning all spiritual advisors from the execution chamber. Instead, the rules allowe the advisors to be in the viewing area.

But last week, a federal judge in South Texas issued a stay of the execution after attorneys for Murphy complained that Christian advisors were still allowed in the execution holding building, when Buddists were banned.

TDCJ argued it was because of security. However, in depositions the Christian spiritual advisors said they could not recite Buddhist chants because they were not consistant with their faith. The court found there was still religious discrimination and issued a stay until the matter could be resolved.

Murphy was a member of the Texas Seven, a gang that broke out of a South Texas prison in December of 2000. The group eventually made its way to the Metroplex. On Dec. 24, 2000 the gang committed an armed robbery of an Irving sporting goods store. The store was across a highway from a restaurant where Irving Police Officer Aubrey Hawkins was having dinner with family members. Hawkins responded to the call and was abushed. He died in gunfire.

The group fled North Texas and was found weeks later at a campground in Woodland Park Colorado after several people recognized the gang from the show America's most wanted. One suspect committed suicide at the scene. The remaining six were all convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death.

Four have been executed. Only Murphy and Randy Halprin are alive and awaiting execution.