Atmore, AL – A cop killer, who is one of the longest serving inmates on Alabama’s death row, was granted a reprieve by the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 25 because he suffers from dementia, and claims he can’t remember murdering the police officer.
Vernon Madison, 67, has been convicted three times of murdering Mobile Police Department (MPD) Corporal Julius Schulte on April 18, 1985.
On the night he was fatally shot, Cpt. Schulte was responding to a call for a domestic disturbance involving a missing child on Etta Avenue, AL.com reported.
Cheryl Ann Green’s 10-year-old daughter had been located by the time he arrived, but as Cpl. Schulte waited for another officer to arrive, Greene and Madison, her live-in boyfriend, got into an argument.
In court, Greene testified that Cpl. Schulte calmly advised Madison to leave.
He told Madison, “Son, just get your things and go. Don’t create a disturbance in the street,” she said, according to AL.com.
Cpl. Schulte didn’t leave right away, but instead, sat in his police car in front of the residence.
“The night he got shot, he was not going to leave,” Cpl. Schulte’s son, Michael Schulte, told AL.com. “It was like he sensed that there was something underlying there, an aggravation between these two adults, not the child, but the child was just what tipped the scales that one time.”
A few minutes later, Madison returned and approached Cpl. Schulte’s parked police car from the rear.
Madison fired a handgun twice at the officer through the driver’s window of the police cruiser before turning the gun his girlfriend. Greene was shot in the back as she tried to get away.
Cpl. Schulte was shot twice in the head, and died of his wounds a week later.
Madison received a death sentence for murdering the much-beloved police officer, who was known for his contributions to children in the community.
The killer utilized every possible tactic for delaying his execution, and has been on death row for 30 years.
He was finally going to be executed on Jan. 25, but 30 minutes before he was scheduled to be given a lethal injection, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas called a halt to the execution, CNN reported.
The stay was in response to a request from Madison’s attorneys at the Equal Justice Initiative, who argued their client was not competent to be executed.
It will remain in place until the court determines whether it will review Madison’s case. If they decline to review it, his execution will be rescheduled.
Family and friends were outraged that Madison’s execution had been delayed yet again.
“I’ve seen news accounts from different news sources … ‘Vernon Morris, dementia patient, stroke patient, set to die for murder of a cop …’ Yes he’s got dementia, but that will not take way from what he did at 34 years old,” Mobile Police Detective Raymond Grissett told InsideEdition.com. “He was a violent criminal, a career criminal as far as I’m concerned, and he executed a police officer and tried to kill his girlfriend.”
Detective Grissett, 59, first met Cpl. Schulte while spending time with his own father, who was a homicide detective.
“He was just a big ol’ teddy bear,” Det. Grissett told Inside Edition. “He put that big gruff look on his face, but he was a kind, gentle guy. He’d always speak to you when he saw you.”
He said Cpl. Schulte had the “patience and compassion” required for serving MPD’s juvenile division.
“He was a step-in parent to many children who were wayward in life,” Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran, who worked in the juvenile division alongside Schulte, told InsideEdition.com. “He’d help round up kids, runaways and investigate those cases where maybe a runaway had a good reason to be running away. He’d see all aspects of it and help in any way he could. He was in community policing before community policing was a thing.”
Betty Schulte, Cpl. Schulte’s widow, has accepted numerous posthumous awards on her husband’s behalf including a proclamation from both houses of the Alabama Legislature, a flag and Medal of Honor bestowed by the American Police Hall of Fame, the Exchange Club of Mobile’s Medal of Valor, and a plaque at the city’s youth center where he was a popular figure.
Cpl. Schulte’s friends and family had looked forward to Madison’s execution as a means to have closure on a wound that has been bleeding for 30 years.
“Every time it comes up … [his son] has to relive everything,” Det. Grissett told InsideEdition.com. “Officers that remember Julius have to relive everything.”
The court planned to further review claims that Madison is mentally incompetent in the context of its previous determination that inmates must have a “rational understanding” that they are going to be executed and of the reason for the execution.
“[Madison] has fought it so long, it’s his own actions that have delayed it,” Sheriff Cochran said. “To me, it’s just been a mockery of the justice through the years.”