Texas executes inmate John Henry Ramirez who fought prayer, touch rules

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A Texas dying row inmate whose case redefined the position of non secular advisers in dying chambers nationwide was executed Wednesday, regardless of the efforts of a district lawyer to cease his deadly injection.

John Henry Ramirez, 38, was executed on the state penitentiary in Huntsville. He was convicted of killing 46-year-old Pablo Castro in 2004, as he took out the trash whereas working at a comfort retailer in Corpus Christi.

“I’ve remorse and regret,” Ramirez advised 5 kin of Castro — together with 4 of his kids — as they watched by a window a couple of toes from him. “That is such a heinous act. I hope this finds you consolation. If this helps you, then I’m glad.

“I hope in some form or kind this helps you discover closure.”

He expressed like to his spouse, son and buddies, concluding with: “Simply know that I fought a great struggle, and I’m able to go.”

Because the deadly dose of pentobarbital took impact, he took a number of brief breaths then started loud night breathing. Inside a minute, all motion stopped. He was pronounced lifeless 14 minutes later, at 6:41 p.m. CDT.

John Henry Ramirez was executed Wednesday in Huntsville, Texas.
John Henry Ramirez was executed Wednesday in Huntsville, Texas.
Texas Division of Felony Justice by way of AP

Prosecutors stated Ramirez robbed Castro of $1.25 then stabbed him 29 instances. Castro’s killing came about throughout a collection of robberies performed by Ramirez and two girls following a three-day drug binge. Ramirez fled to Mexico however was arrested 3½ years later.

Ramirez challenged state jail guidelines that prevented his pastor from touching him and praying aloud throughout his execution, saying his spiritual freedom was being violated. That problem led to his execution being delayed in addition to the executions of others.

In March, the US Supreme Courtroom sided with Ramirez, saying states should accommodate the desires of dying row inmates who need to have their religion leaders pray and contact them throughout their executions.

Earlier than Ramirez made his last feedback, his non secular adviser, Dana Moore, positioned his proper hand on the inmate’s chest, and held it there at some point of the execution. Along with his again to witnesses, Moore provided a quick prayer.

“Look upon John together with your grace,” he prayed. “Grant him peace. Grant all of us peace.” He spoke of “the Lord is my shepherd.”

As Moore’s prayer ended, Ramirez responded: “Amen.”

On Monday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously declined to commute Ramirez’s dying sentence to a lesser penalty. In line with his lawyer, Ramirez had exhausted all doable appeals and no last request to halt the execution was filed with the US Supreme Courtroom.

The lead prosecutor at Ramirez’s trial in 2008, Mark Skurka, stated it was unfair that Ramirez had somebody praying over him as he died when Castro didn’t have the identical alternative.

“It has been a very long time coming, however Pablo Castro will most likely lastly get the justice that his household has sought for therefore lengthy, regardless of the authorized delays,” stated Skurka, who later served as Nueces County district lawyer earlier than retiring.

Ramirez’s lawyer, Seth Kretzer, stated whereas he feels empathy for Castro’s household, his shopper’s problem was about defending spiritual freedoms for all. Ramirez was not asking for one thing new however one thing that has been a part of jurisprudence all through historical past, Kretzer stated. He stated even Nazi struggle criminals have been offered ministers earlier than their executions after World Conflict II.

“That was not a mirrored image on some favor we have been doing for the Nazis,” Kretzer stated. “Offering spiritual administration on the time of dying is a mirrored image of the relative ethical energy of the captors.”

Kretzer stated Ramirez’s non secular adviser was additionally allowed to carry a Bible within the dying chamber, which hadn’t been permitted earlier than, however it was unclear to witnesses whether or not Moore was carrying the e book.

Pastor Dana Moore
Pastor Dana Moore was cleared to carry a Bible and pray over Ramirez within the dying chamber.

Ramirez’s case took one other flip in April when present Nueces County District Legal professional Mark Gonzalez requested a decide to withdraw the dying warrant and delay the execution, saying it had been requested by mistake. Gonzalez stated he considers the dying penalty “unethical.”

Throughout a virtually 20-minute Fb stay video, Gonzalez stated he believes the dying penalty is without doubt one of the “many issues mistaken with our justice system.” Gonzalez stated he wouldn’t search the dying penalty whereas he stays in workplace.

He didn’t return a cellphone name or e mail in search of remark.

Additionally in April, 4 of Castro’s kids filed a movement asking that Ramirez’s execution order be left in place.

“I would like my father to lastly have his justice in addition to the peace to lastly transfer on with my life and let this nightmare be over,” Fernando Castro, one in all his sons, stated within the movement.

On Wednesday night, Fernando Castro described the punishment as “a very long time coming” and stated Ramirez’s apology to him and his siblings was “not going to carry our dad again.”

“He might say what he needed to say. Whether or not it’s true, who is aware of? I really feel my dad lastly obtained his justice however I’m not glad concerning the scenario.”

In June, a decide declined Gonzalez’ request to withdraw Wednesday’s execution date. Final month, the Texas Courtroom of Felony Appeals declined to even contemplate the request.

Ramirez was the third inmate put to dying this yr in Texas and the eleventh within the US Two extra executions are scheduled this yr in Texas, each in November.

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