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Texas Inmate Who Fought For His Right to Have a Spiritual Adviser Touch Him During His Death Has Been Executed

A Texas death row inmate named John Henry Ramirez, 38, was executed on October 5 after a years-long battle to have his spiritual adviser not only present but able to touch and pray aloud over him as he died.

He died by lethal injection after taking his case to the Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor in September 2021, reports CNN.

Ramirez was convicted for the 2004 murder of Pablo Castro, a grandfather of 14, who Ramirez robbed for $1.25 before stabbing him 29 times while Castro was taking out the trash at his job at a convenience store.

According to CBS News, the murder took place following a three-day drug binge where Ramirez and two women committed a string of robberies before he fled to Mexico after the murder. He was eventually arrested after three-and-a-half years on the run and has been awaiting his execution date ever since.

Although he was originally set to be executed on September 8, 2021, Ramirez took his case to the Supreme Court after claiming his religious freedom had been infringed upon when his requests were denied by the state.

The Supreme Court ultimately ruled 8-1 in Ramirez’s favor six months after the court halted the execution in September 2021, stating that prisoners have the right to request physical and spiritual comfort as they died.

Justice Clarence Thomas was the only dissenting vote, while Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion, “we do not see how letting the spiritual advisor stand slightly closer, reach out his arm, and touch a part of the prisoner’s body well away from the site of any IV line would meaningfully increase risk,” per the Washington Post.

Ramirez’s attorney also submitted a request for lessening his sentence, which was denied on Monday by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles after an employee at Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez’s office mistakenly submitted a request for a new execution date.

During his final moments, Ramirez addressed Castro’s family, saying, “I just want to say to the family of Pablo Castro, I appreciate everything that y’all did to try and communicate with me through the Victim’s Advocacy program. I tried to reply back, but there is nothing that I could have said or done that would have helped you.”

He continued, “I have regret and remorse, this is such a heinous act. I hope this finds you comfort, if this helps you then I am glad. I hope in some shape or form this helps you find closure,” before saying, “To my wife, my friends, my son, grasshopper, Dana and homies, I love y’all. Just know that I fought a good fight, and I am ready to go. I am ready, Warden.”

Ramirez was accompanied by Dana Moore, a reverend at Corpus Christi’s Second Baptist Church, who wrote in an affidavit pleading Ramirez’s case that he was required “to be in physical contact with John Ramirez during the most stressful and difficult time of his life in order to give him comfort.”

In a more recent interview with CNN, Moore said, “I will be there for John, be able to see him and just minister to him and be able to touch him, to kind of give him reassurance, some semblance of peace, that he’s got somebody who’s there on his side that’s with him.” Ramirez died at 6:41 PM CT, just under 15 minutes after his first dose of pentobarbital.

According to the New York Post, the Castro family has been awaiting Ramirez’s execution since the day their father was murdered.

Fernando Castro said that Ramirez’s death was “a long time coming” and dismissed Ramirez’s apology to the Castro family, saying it was “not going to bring our dad back.”

He added, “He could say what he wanted to say. Whether it’s true, who knows? I feel my dad finally got his justice but I’m not happy about the situation.”

Ramirez is the third inmate this year to be put to death in Texas. Two more executions in Texas are scheduled for this year, both of them in November.

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