"The prior six execution dates were stayed based on Arthur's long-term manipulation of the federal and state courts through civil litigation and successive collateral attacks", attorneys for the state wrote in a response Thursday with the high court.
Two hours before Arthur's scheduled execution, medical professionals and ethicists filed a brief in support of Arthur's argument with the U.S. Supreme Courts. A temporary stay was issued at 9:30 p.m.
On Wednesday both the Alabama Supreme Court and the USA 11 Circuit Court of Appeals denied requests by Arthur's attorneys to have the execution stayed.
"We are greatly relieved by the Supreme Court's decision granting a stay and now hope for the opportunity to present the merits of Mr. Arthur's claims to the Court", Suhana S. Han, an attorney for Arthur, said in a statement.
The state temporarily put the execution on hold for two hours, delaying it until 8 p.m., to give the U.S. Supreme Court a chance to decide if it would hear Arthur's appeal. The execution stay will expire if the court does not take up Arthur's case.
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This is the seventh time Arthur's execution has been delayed.
Arthur has spent more than three decades on death row for the 1982 contract killing of Troy Wicker, who was shot while he slept in his bed.
Arthur, first sentenced to death in the early 1980s, has outlived seven different execution dates.
"Arthur told the jury that he did not believe he would be executed", an appeals court noted in a decision this week.
The office of the Attorney General has since filed a response asking SCOTUS not to issue a stay.
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Arthur was in the Decatur facility because he was convicted in the 1977 shooting death of a woman in Marion County.
Prison system spokesman Bob Horton said the state will wait until Arthur's death warrant expires at midnight to see if the execution can proceed.
Convicted a third time in 1991, Arthur - as he had at his 1987 trial - requested the jury impose a death sentence, arguing that life without parole "would tie my hands" in the appeals process. The US Supreme Court upheld the use of midazolam in a case out of Oklahoma previous year - Glossip v. Gross - which used the same drug combination as Alabama.
Limited crime scene testing found no DNA link to Gilbert or Arthur. They argue that the Alabama death penalty sentencing structure is unconstitutional and that a judge prematurely dismissed the inmate's lawsuit challenging Alabama's lethal injection procedure as unconstitutional.
His latest appeal largely centers on a requirement that condemned inmates challenging their method of execution must name a feasible alternate method. The state courts rejected the claim, saying there was evidence Arthur helped Gilbert prepare an affidavit. But the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the execution due to questions about Madison's competency.
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Vernon Madison, convicted in the 1985 murder of Mobile police officer Julius Schulte, was scheduled to be executed in May.