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Muslim inmate asks that state not autopsy his body after execution

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An Alabama inmate will not ask the courts to block his execution next week but is requesting that the state not perform an autopsy on his body because of his Muslim faith, according to a lawsuit. Keith Edmund Gavin, 64, is scheduled to be executed July 18 by lethal injection. Gavin was convicted in the 1998 shooting death of a delivery driver who had stopped at an ATM to get money.

Gavin filed a lawsuit last month asking a judge to block the state from performing an autopsy after his execution. It has been the standard practice in the state to perform autopsies after executions.

"Mr. Gavin is a devout Muslim. His religion teaches that the human body is a sacred temple, which must be kept whole. As a result, Mr. Gavin sincerely believes that an autopsy would desecrate his body and violate the sanctity of keeping his human body intact. Based on his faith, Mr. Gavin is fiercely opposed to an autopsy being performed on his body after his execution," his attorneys wrote in the lawsuit filed in state court in Montgomery.

His attorneys said they filed the lawsuit after being unable to have "meaningful discussions" with state officials about his request to avoid an autopsy. They added that the court filing is not an attempt to stay the execution and that "Gavin does not anticipate any further appeals or requests for stays of his execution."

William Califf, a spokesman for Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, said Tuesday that "we are working on a resolution."

Gavin was convicted of capital murder for the 1998 shooting death of William Clinton Clayton Jr. in Cherokee County in northeast Alabama. Clayton, a delivery driver, was shot when he stopped at an ATM to get money to take his wife to dinner, prosecutors said.

A jury voted 10-2 in favor of the death penalty for Gavin. The trial court accepted the jury's recommendation and sentenced him to death.

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