Texas prisoners fight prayers, touch rules to be enforced – FOX13 News Memphis

HOUSTON — (AP) — Despite a district attorney’s efforts to block his lethal injection, the case of a death row inmate in Texas clarifies the role of psychiatrists in the nation’s death chambers, scheduled for Wednesday Three executions.

John Henry Ramirez, 38, was sentenced to death in 2004 for the killing of convenience store clerk Pablo Castro, 46. Prosecutors said Castro was taking out trash at the Corpus Christi store when Ramirez robbed him of $1.25 and stabbed him. He he he he 29 times.

Castro’s killing came amid a series of robberies; Ramirez and two women had been stealing money after three days of drug use. Ramirez fled to Mexico but was arrested 3.5 years later.

Ramirez has questioned state prison rules that prevent his priest from touching him and praying aloud during his execution, saying his religious freedom was violated. This challenge caused his execution, as well as that of others, to be delayed.

In March, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Ramirez, saying states must meet the wishes of death row inmates who want their faith leaders to pray and touch them during executions.

On Monday, the Texas Pardon and Parole Board unanimously refused to commute Ramirez’s death sentence to a lesser one. Ramirez has exhausted all possible appeals and has no plans to make a final request to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to his lawyers.

Chief prosecutor Mark Skurka, who tried Ramirez in 2008, said it was unfair that Ramirez had someone praying for him at the time of his death when Castro didn’t have the same opportunity .

“It’s been a long time, but Pablo Castro may finally get the justice his family has sought for so long, despite legal delays,” said Skulka, who later served as New Zealander before retiring. Chase County District Attorney.

Ramirez’s attorney, Seth Krezer, said that while he sympathizes with Castro’s family, his client’s challenge is to protect religious freedom for all. Ramirez is not seeking something new, Kretzer said, but has been part of jurisprudence throughout history. Even Nazi war criminals were appointed ministers before they were executed after World War II, he said.

“It’s not a reflection of some of the help we did for the Nazis,” Kreitzer said. “Providing religious stewardship at the time of death is a reflection of the relative moral strength of the captive.”

Ramirez’s spiritual advisor, Dana Moore, will also be able to hold a Bible in the death chamber, which was not previously allowed, Krazer said.

Ramirez’s case took another turn in April, when Newches County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez asked a judge to quash the death penalty and delay the execution, saying it was wrongly requested. Gonzalez said he considered the death penalty “immoral.”

In a nearly 20-minute Facebook live video, Gonzalez said he sees the death penalty as one of the “many problems with our justice system.” Gonzalez said he would not seek the death penalty while in office.

He did not return calls or emails seeking comment.

Also in April, four of Castro’s children filed a motion to keep Ramirez’s execution order.

One of his sons, Fernando Castro, said in the motion: “I hope that my father will finally get his justice and peace, that my life will finally move on and that this nightmare will end.”

In June, a judge denied Gonzalez’s request to withdraw Wednesday’s enforcement date. Last month, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals even refused to consider the request.

If Ramirez is executed, he will become the third Texas prisoner to be executed this year and the 11th in the U.S.


Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70

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