The family of Pablo Castro said they found closure following the execution of John H. Ramirez, 38, at 6:41 p.m. Wednesday in the Huntsville Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Ramirez was convicted of robbing and killing Castro, 46, on July 19, 2004, during a drug-induced robbery spree in Corpus Christi.
Castro was taking out the trash at a convenience store and had $1.25 on him when he was stabbed 29 times.
“On behalf of my family, this has been a long time coming. Our dad taught us to be hardworking people with integrity. And in the end his hard work did not go in vain because through all this we have gone through without his presence we’ve remained as he wanted us to be - hardworking men and women with integrity,” said Fernando Castro, the youngest son of Pablo Castro. “His legacy will continue through us as it has. Our father never truly died because through us he will live forever.”
The family said relief isn’t the right word following the execution, and they said they believe the punishment should have happened sooner.
Ramirez fled to Mexico for three years before he was arrested. He wasn’t sentenced to death until 2008. He was granted a new attorney, his execution was postponed several times, and the Castro family members said they felt cheated each time.
“His apology is not going to bring my dad back,” said Fernando. “My dad finally got his justice.”
Fernando also said his family didn’t turn to alcohol and drugs when this tragedy occurred, and instead have dedicated their lives to serving, either as first responders or in the U.S. military.
“My dad didn’t get his justice until today. It shouldn’t have taken this long and the system is far too slow,” he added.
Castro’s son, Pablo Castro Jr., said the execution brought him no joy but he said he hopes that the “eye-for-an- eye” justice will stop future crimes.
“We have been put through hell, and something was actually done,” Pablo said. “His apology was empty words for me.”
The execution was attended by 12 witnesses, including Pastor Dana Moore, who kept his hand on Ramirez’ heart throughout the entire process. Church member Janice Trujillo sang “Amazing Grace” at the Ramirez side of the viewing port to mask the snoring and gasping sounds for his wife, family and friends.
“He’s free,” said Amanda Ramirez.
Trujillo said, “We are the ones left behind right now.”
A documentary film crew and about a dozen opponents of the death penalty had gathered outside the prison Wednesday night.
Ramirez’s case rose to national attention last year when he received a last-minute stay by the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear his religious rights claims.
At that time, Ramirez’s attorney claimed that his religious rights were violated when the Texas Department of Criminal Justice did not allow his spiritual adviser to pray aloud and lay hands on him during his execution. Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled in Ramirez’s favor, leading to the execution being rescheduled.