Dominique Ray was executed this past Thursday in Alabama by lethal injection. The scheduled execution had been temporarily stayed by a federal appeals court because Ray was not permitted to have an “iman”, his Islamic spiritual adviser, be present in the execution chamber. Alabama immediately appealed the case to the United States Supreme who ruled in favor of the state.
The Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) employs a Christian chaplain who has been in the execution room for nearly every execution since 1997 – but ADOC refused to allow a non-employee to be in the execution chamber instead of the chaplain. Ray had been an inmate for close to 20 years and converted to Islam while in prison.
He was sentenced to death in 1999 for raping and murdering a 15-year-old girl in 1995. The following is a compilation of the facts according to court records:
“On or about August 16, 1995, Lawrence Milton was operating a tractor and bushhog just off County Road 62 in Dallas County, Alabama. As Mr. Milton went about his duties bushhogging the field, he discovered the skeletal remains of Tiffany Harville, who had been missing since on or about July 15, 1995.
Tiffany Harville was 15 years of age at the time of her death. Mary Coleman, Tiffany’s mother, described the last time she [had] communicated with her daughter, Tiffany, in July 1995. Mrs. Coleman stated that she, Mrs. Coleman, was leaving town for the evening to attend a Union Workshop. She left Tiffany approximately $6 spending money. Upon Mrs. Coleman’s return to Selma on Sunday afternoon, she discovered that her daughter had not been seen since 8:00 p.m. Saturday night. Mrs. Coleman described the efforts made to locate Tiffany and further reported that the Defendant, Dominique Ray, came to her house to offer his assistance and share Mrs. Coleman’s concern for her missing daughter. She testified that the Defendant offered to distribute fliers, and at one time, offered reward money to locate Tiffany. On two other occasions before Tiffany’s body was discovered, the Defendant called Mrs. Coleman on the phone to make a general inquiry as to Mrs. Coleman’s condition.
The investigation into the death of Tiffany Harville continued for several months. There were numerous leads and suspects, and at one time an individual was arrested and held without bond for the murder of Tiffany Harville. Finally, the codefendant in this case, Marcus D. Owden, came forward and gave the police a full accounting of the events and circumstances surrounding the death of Tiffany Harville.
Owden testified at [t]rial against the Defendant Ray that it was their intent to form a mob or a gang, and that they had intended to find Tiffany Harville for the purpose of having sex with her. Owden stated that he did not know Tiffany, but that Ray did and that it was Ray’s idea to go and get Tiffany. Owden testified that they had talked about having sex with her before they went to her house to get her. On the evening of July 15, 1995,1 Owden and Ray picked Tiffany up and proceeded to take her to [the] Sardis community located in Dallas County, Alabama, on or near Highway 41. Owden stated that they had decided they were going to ask her for sex first, and if that didn’t work, that they would take it. He described during his testimony how he and the Defendant Ray [had] had sex with her and how she [had] pleaded for help.
Owden testified that Ray cut her throat and that he, Owden, cut her as well. He then described that they took part of her clothing along with her purse, which contained $6 or $7.
In addition to the testimony of Marcus D. Owden, the State offered into evidence the statement of the Defendant, Dominique Ray. In his statement, he admits to his role in the rape and murder of Tiffany Harville, yet attempts to establish Owden as the primary perpetrator.
Dr. Lauridson, the State Medical Examiner with the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, described 12 defects in the skull which were consistent with stab-like defects. He [wa]s unable to testify with regard to soft tissue wounds, due to the decomposition of the body.”
OUR FREE OPINION
We are not persuaded by Ray’s argument that he was denied due process of law when the court denied his request to have an iman present at the time of his execution. However, we are opposed to the death penalty under all circumstances. Per usual, the facts, in this case, are horrific, but life in prison is an adequate remedy.