The Supreme Court on Thursday delayed the execution of the Texas inmate. Prison lawyers argued that a Buddhist priest could not be with Murphy in the death chamber when he died.
In a Consistent Statement, JudgeTexas could not proceed with Murphy's punishment unless the state allowed his Buddhist adviser or another Buddhist representative to accompany Murphy in the chamber during the execution.
Murphy was one of the Texas 7 prison inmates convicted of murdering the Irving police officer Aubrey Hawkins during a crime on Christmas Eve 2000. On Wednesday night, Murphy told CBS station KTVT Life Should Be Spared because he was on the other side of the building when the deadly shots were fired.
However, he blames himself for being where he is and says he does not want anyone to be considered innocent.
Murphy's lawyers had said that Texas prison officials had tried to prevent the inmate's spiritual adviser, a Buddhist priest, from being killed when he violated Murphy's First Amendment right to religious freedom. Murphy, 57, became a Buddhist nearly a decade ago while imprisoned.
Pre-trial courts had rejected the argument. The Supreme Court ruled 7: 2,and Neil Gorsuch disagreed.
But Kavanaugh wrote Thursday night that the prison system in Texas allows a Christian or Muslim inmate to have a state-employed Christian or Muslim religious counselor either in the execution room or in the adjoining viewing room. However, inmates of other religious denominations who wish to have their religious advisor present can only have the counselor in the auditorium and not in the enforcement room, he said.
"As this court has repeatedly stated, state discrimination against religions, particularly discrimination against religious persons, religious organizations and religious language, violates the Constitution," he wrote. "The government must not discriminate against religion in general or against certain religious communities."
Kavanaugh said Texas could not advance Murphy's punishment unless the state allowed his Buddhist advisor or another Buddhist pastor that Murphy had decided on a chamber during execution.
"What the state, in my view, should not do is give Christian or Muslim inmates, but not Buddhist inmates, a religious advisor to their religion in the execution room," said the judiciary.
Kavanaugh was not sentenced to death in his 1
Texas Department of Justice spokesman Jeremy Desel said the state would review the ruling to determine how it should react.
Desel said Murphy is being returned from the prison of the Huntsville unit, which is carrying out executions, to the Polunsky unit, about 45 miles east, where inmates of death row are detained.
"I knew there was a thin thread of possibilities," a smiling Murphy said from a cell a few feet from the death chamber, after being told by the guard that he was given a reprieve.
Texas officials argued in court with security concerns that only chaplains that had been extensively tested by the prison system were allowed in the chamber. While Christian and Muslim chaplains were available, there was no Buddhist priest. Prison officials allowed Murphy to stay with his spiritual advisor for about 40 minutes on Thursday afternoon.
The escaped inmates were arrested in Colorado a month later and completed a six-week manhunt. One of them killed himself as officers approached, and the other six were sentenced to death for the murder of Hawkins. Murphy would have been the fifth to be executed. The sixth inmate Randy Halprin was not given an execution date.
Murphy would be the fourth inmate to die in the US that year, and the third to be executed in Texas, the hardest-capitalized state of the death penalty.
In February, the Supreme Court rejected a request by a Muslim detainee in Alabama to present his Islamic spiritual adviser to the execution chamber. Dominique Ray, who was executed, also argued that his religious rights were violated because Alabama allows a Christian chaplain employed in prison to stay in the execution chamber.
Murphy was convicted under the Texas Party Law, which makes one person criminally responsible for another's actions when involved in a conspiracy.
Murphy told KTVT he was "actually the escape driver".
"I do not challenge the crime," Murphy said.