Alabama: Where the Constitution and DNA Don’t Matter


Solid evidence indicating that lethal injection is cruel and unusual has halted executions in several states over the past two years, but Alabama’s not one of them. The constitutionality of the state’s lethal injection protocol will be challenged in federal court this October, however Darrell Grayson, a black man convicted of robbing, raping, and killing an 86-year-old woman by an all white jury in 1982, doesn’t have time to wait. He’s scheduled to die at 6 p.m. tomorrow.

Grayson, who admits he doesn’t remember whether or not he committed the crime because he was, well, wasted, recently filed an unsuccessful challenge to lethal injection. The 11th Circuit Court, which rules over Alabama, dismissed it because Grayson waited too long to file his appeal. Grayson has also petitioned to have DNA testing performed, but the courts have denied that request as well despite evidence that points to Grayson’s innocence. Two men claim Grayson was passed out in another location at the time of the crime and his co-defendant mysteriously asked for Grayson’s forgiveness before he was executed in 1999.

Grayson’s request to delay the execution is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, but things aren’t looking good. Alabama Attorney General Troy King argued yesterday that “justice has been delayed too long.” Ironically, justice will be denied forever if Grayson is killed before his DNA is tested and the challenge to Alabama’s lethal injection procedure is resolved.

—Celia Perry

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