AUSTIN — Texas death row inmate John Henry Ramirez filed a stay of execution last week following action by the Nueces County District Attorney, who opposes the death penalty.
Ramirez is schedule to be killed Oct. 5 for the 2004 robbery-murder of a convenience store clerk in Corpus Christi.
Ramirez was previously scheduled for execution last year when the U.S. Supreme Court hit pause at the last minute in order to hear oral arguments in his religious rights claims.
At that time, Ramirez’s attorney claimed that his religious rights were violated when the TDCJ did not allow his spiritual adviser to pray aloud and lay hands on him during his execution. Ultimately, SCOUTS ruled in Ramirez’s favor, allowing his execution to be rescheduled.
A death warrant was issued by a Nueces County sheriff, but days later, Gonzalez filed a motion to withdraw the warrant, taking Ramirez off death row completely, citing that the warrant was issued without his permission and that he is ultimately against capital punishment.
"(I have) the firm belief that the death penalty is unethical and should not be imposed on Mr. Ramirez or any other person while (I occupy this) office," Gonzalez previously said.
Even so, a trial court denied Gonzalez’s request and the Oct. 5 date remained in place.
Now, Ramirez’s attorneys are hoping to overturn that court ruling, stating that “no execution case in Texas history has seen a state district judge overrule a joint motion to withdraw an execution date.”
“The elected District Attorney of Nueces County does not want this execution to proceed. In Texas, the D.A. is the chief law enforcement officer of the district,” Ramirez’s attorney Seth Kretzer told CNHI News. “The Court of Criminal Appeals should grant mandamus and send this back for consideration in the correct legal paradigm.”
Prosecutors said Ramirez, 38, stabbed Pablo Castro 29 times while on a robbery spree in search of drug money. He then left for Mexico for three years before he was arrested. Ramirez was sentenced to death in 2008. If completed, he will be executed at the Huntsville Unit by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Four of Castro's children filed a motion asking that Ramirez's execution be left as is "ending an ordeal that has denied peace and closure to Pablo Castro's children for nearly twenty years."