A prisoner who is slated to be executed for the murder of a worker at a convenience store was refused a stay of execution by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Thursday. The execution was scheduled to take place the following month.
The denial was the most recent turn in a tumultuous case involving John Henry Ramirez. Ramirez gained notoriety when he appealed to the United States Supreme Court, not to spare his life, but to allow his pastor to lay hands on him and pray with him in the execution chamber. The rejection was the most recent turn in the case. That appeal was successful for Mr. Ramirez, and the date of his execution was set for October 5th.
If the appeal had been withdrawn, the execution of Mr. Ramirez would very certainly have been postponed until at least 2024, which is the year when Mr. Gonzalez’s sentence will be over.
The motion that Mr. Gonzalez submitted was sent to the office of Judge Bobby Galvan, who presided over the first trial of Mr. Ramirez and decided when he would be put to death. At the hearing that took place in June, Judge Galvan responded to Mr. Gonzalez’s plea to cancel the execution warrant by stating that he did not feel he has the jurisdiction to do so in his capacity as a judge. The verdict that came down from the Court of Criminal Appeals on Thursday upheld the finding that Judge Galvan had made.
During the course of a robbery that took place in 2008, Mr. Ramirez was found guilty of stabbing many times an employee of a convenience store called Pablo Castro. When Mr. Ramirez and his two buddies were driving about Corpus Christi in search of someone to steal for drug money, they came upon Mr. Castro, who was a father of nine children. According to the prosecution, the suspects made $1.25 from the crime.
When he was asked to provide any mitigating circumstances before his sentence, the Bible phrase Psalm 51:3 sprang to mind: “For I confess my sins, and my guilt is continually before me.”
This year, four of Mr. Castro’s children filed a brief with the court requesting that the execution date of October be maintained and that “an odyssey that has denied serenity and closure” to them for over two decades of their lives be brought to an end.
In an interview that took place in April, Fernando Castro, one of Mr. Castro’s sons, referred to the withdrawal of the district attorney’s office as “outrageous.” He also mentioned that the continual postponements and reversals had caused his family a great deal of emotional distress.
After developing a friendship with a Baptist preacher called Dana Moore while he was incarcerated, Mr. Ramirez requested that Mr. Moore be granted permission to pray aloud with him and touch him when he was being put to death. His plea was turned down by the state, which cited worries about the safety of its citizens. The matter was heard by the Supreme Court, which issued a decision in March that was favourable to Mr. Ramirez by a vote of 8-1.
If Mr. Ramirez is granted clemency by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, it will be Mr. Ramirez’s final chance to escape being put to death. On Thursday, Mr. Ramirez’s attorney, Seth Kretzer, said that “the prospects are not precisely excellent,” and that he was now making preparations for Mr. Ramirez to get a “constitutionally acceptable execution” next month that included his pastor.