Texas executed Jean-Henri Ramirezwhose spiritual advisor was allowed to pray aloud and “lay hands on” on him as he died after a US Supreme Court ruling led to new guidelines in his case and similar demands in prisons across the country.
Ramirez, 38 years old, was killed on Wednesday evening by lethal injection to the Huntsville unit of the state prison system for the 2004 murder of Pablo Castro, a 14-year-old grandfather and convenience store worker whom Ramirez robbed $1.25 from and stabbed 29 times.
According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Ramirez’s last words were, “I just want to say to the family of Pablo Castro, I appreciate everything you have done to try to communicate with me through the advocacy program. I tried to answer, but nothing I could have said or done would have helped you.
“I have regrets and remorse, it’s such a heinous act. I hope it brings you comfort, if it helps you, I’m happy. I hope that somehow it will help you find the solution.
“To my wife, my friends, my son, Grasshopper, Dana and my homies, I love you all. Just know that I put up a good fight and I’m ready to go. I’m ready, Director.
He was pronounced dead at 6:41 p.m. CT.
Reverend Dana Moore of the Second Baptist Church of Corpus Christi, who had sworn in the high court that he needed “to be in physical contact with John Ramirez during the most stressful and difficult time of his life in order to comfort him”, was to be with the inmate at the time of his death.
“Human touch has meaning and power,” Moore wrote in an affidavit in support of Ramirez’s request that the pastor “lay hands on him” during his execution.
“I’ll be there for John,” Moore recently told CNN“to be able to see him and just heal him and be able to touch him, to reassure him, a semblance of peace, that he has someone who is there by his side who is with him.”
Texas is part of 27 US states that still have capital punishmentwith five more executions scheduled through March.
Ramirez’s legal dispute highlighted the balance between an inmate’s demand for religious accommodation during execution and the will of a State to respect the security and security issues in the room.
The convicted murderer was scheduled to be executed on September 8, 2021. When he learned of the date, he asked corrections officials if Moore could be with him in the execution chamber. That request was initially denied, but prison officials later changed their minds, according to court records, changing their protocol to allow a spiritual advisor to arrive.
Ramirez then demanded that Moore be allowed to “lay hands” on him and “pray for him,” rituals he said were a crucial part of keeping his faith. Texas denied the request, and Ramirez appealed, then sued as his execution neared, arguing that the department’s denial would violate his rights under the First Amendment and the Religious Lands and Religious Lands Act. institutionalized people. The case was later expanded to include Ramirez’s desire that Moore be allowed to pray audibly after corrections officials denied that request.
The case was appealed to the Supreme Court, which halted Ramirez’s execution at the eleventh hour — Moore was in jail, waiting for her to begin — so she could hear her case.
In March, the court ruled 8-1 in favor of Ramirez.
A new legal twist came the following month, when the Nueces County District Attorney filed a motion to withdraw his office’s death warrant request, citing his “firm belief that the death penalty is unethical. Last month, a state appeals court denied the petition.
And a majority of the Texas Board of Pardons and Pardons this week decided not to recommend commuting Ramirez’s death sentence to a lesser one.