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Supreme Court sides with inmate wanting pastor present

ATMORE, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama inmate has won a reprieve from a scheduled lethal injection after the U.S. Supreme Court said the state could not proceed without his pastor in the death chamber.

Thursday's planned execution of Willie B. Smith III was called off late at night when the U.S. Supreme Court maintained an injunction.

The state prison system said afterward that the execution would not proceed in light of the ruling.

Alabama has maintained that non-prison staff should not be in the room for security reasons.

The 51-year-old Smith was sentenced to death for the 1991 murder of 22-year-old Sharma Ruth Johnson in Birmingham, Alabama's largest city.




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