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US Supreme Court Delays Patrick Murphy Execution Due To Religious Discrimination Claim

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court blocked the lethal injection of Patrick Murphy after attorneys for the prisoner argued a Buddhist priest was not allowed to be with Murphy in the death chamber as he was being put to death.

Murphy was one of the Texas 7 prison escapees convicted for the murder of Irving Police Officer Aubrey Hawkins during a crime spree on Christmas Eve 2000.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, in an opinion Thursday night, said inmates of other religious denominations who want their religious adviser to be present can have the adviser present only in the viewing room and not in the execution room itself for their executions.

Kavanaugh said that, in his view, the Constitution prohibits such denominational discrimination.

Patrick Murphy
Patrick Murphy talks to CBS 11's J.D. Miles before Murphy's scheduled execution

The 57-year-old Murphy was part of a group of inmates who escaped from a South Texas prison and committed numerous robberies before being captured, including the one during which they killed Hawkins.

Murphy told CBS 11 recently, his life should be spared because he was on the other side of the building when the fatal shots were fired.  However he does blame himself for being where he is and says he doesn't want anyone to think he's innocent.

"I'm not challenging the guilt of the crime," said Murphy.

"My role was basically really to be the getaway driver," he said.

Murphy and six violent convicts broke out of a South Texas prison and together headed back to his hometown of Irving where they donned fake security guard uniforms and collected an arsenal of firearms by robbing a sporting goods store on Christmas Eve.

"I didn't even realize shots had been fired for probably 10 or 15 minutes," he said.

Murphy was in a getaway car in front of the store when the other escapees were confronted in the back by the officer who was shot 11 times.

"Im sorry. I regret what occurred," he said.

Murphy was sentenced to death like the other five surviving escapees when they were captured a month later, but because he didn't fire shots, Murphy believes he doesn't deserve to die.

Patrick Murphy
Patrick Murphy was one of the Texas 7 prison escapees (TDCJ)
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