By Tania Snuggs, news reporter

A "Texas 7" gang member has won a reprieve from execution because his Buddhist spiritual adviser is not allowed in the death chamber with him.

Patrick Murphy, who became a Buddhist almost ten years ago while on death row, argued his religious freedom would be violated if he did not have his priest by his side.

The US Supreme Court blocked his execution two hours after he could have been put to death.

After leaving a holding cell feet away from the execution chamber, a smiling Murphy said: "I knew there was a thin thread of possibility."

The 57-year-old was part of the "Texas 7" gang which escaped prison in December 2000 and then committed numerous robberies, including one in which a suburban Dallas police officer was shot dead.


Aubrey Hawkins, 29, who had worked for Irving police force for 14 months, had just finished dinner with his family on Christmas Eve when he responded to a call about a robbery at a sporting goods store and was shot 11 times.

Murphy and the other inmates were arrested a month later in Colorado following a six-week manhunt.

More from Texas

Image: He was part of the 'Texas 7' gang convicted of shooting dead a police officer in December 2000. Pic: CBS

On Thursday night, judge Brett Kavanaugh said the Texas prison system allows Christian or Muslim inmates to have a state-employed religious adviser present either in the execution chamber of the adjacent viewing room.

Inmates of other religious denominations who want their adviser present can have them only in the viewing room.

Lower courts had earlier rejected Murphy's argument.

Mr Kavanaugh wrote: "The government may not discriminate against religion generally or against particular religious denominations."

He added that the state of Texas cannot move forward with the execution unless it allows his Buddhist adviser, or another Buddhist priest of its choosing, to Read More – Source

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