CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — John Henry Ramirez was granted a stay of execution at around 9 p.m. Wednesday night.
The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the death by legal injection be delayed after Ramirez argued that his rights were being violated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, who wouldn't allow his spiritual advisor Dana Moore to lay hands on him and pray aloud at the time of his death.
A writ of certiorari was issued, granting a review of Ramirez's assertion. He can not be executed before the Supreme Court hears the appeal.
"My heart goes out to the family of Pablo Castro," said Ramirez's lawyer Seth Kretzer told KRIS 6 News on Wednesday night. "I understand they're probably very disappointed tonight."
Ramirez is on death row after being convicted of killing Castro, a convenience store clerk, in 2004.
Castro's sister-in-law Elaine Salcedo confirmed the family's anguish at hearing the news.
"My sister (Castro's widow) is very devastated as well as my nieces and nephews," she said. "They're at a loss for words, because they feel like once again they're reliving the nightmare of having to go through this ordeal."
Ramirez became eligible for execution at 6 p.m. Wednesday night before the federal court stepped in. The state previously had denied Ramirez's request for a stay.
"All I can tell (Castro's family) is that if they have any questions about why they are where they are, they are free to ask the lawyers for the state of Texas who insisted on this unconstitutional scheme."
Ramirez killed Castro as was taking out the trash at the Times Market on Baldwin Boulevard.
Ramirez slashed Castro's throat and stabbed him over two dozen times over $1.25.
Ramirez was with two women that night, Christina Chavez and Angela Rodriguez, they were arrested that night but Ramirez got away.
He was able to elude police until 2008 when he was captured near Brownsville.
Ramirez was sentenced to death, but he's been able to delay his execution twice. Once, so he could get a new attorney and in September of last year due to the pandemic.
Most recently, Ramirez requested a stay of execution after he was denied a request to have Pastor Dana Moore, of the Second Baptist Church in Corpus Christi, Texas, lay his hands on him during his execution.
KRIS 6 News spoke to Aaron Castro, the son of Pablo Castro. He expressed his frustration with the delays.
"Honestly, if he wants a priest to bless him before he's sent off, by all means, go ahead. That doesn't affect me one bit. What affects me is why this process continues to get delayed time and time again. He is clearly taking the Department of Justice for a two-a-ride and they're paying his fare," said Castro.
Castro was just 14 years old when his father was killed.
"You always think this is going to be the year, this is the time, there won't be another stay of execution, there won't be another delay. He's a disgusting human being. I think what he did was uncalled for. I don't see any excuse in anyone's book or anyone's mind that could justify his action. Stop crying, stop trying to get around the situation. There's no way out. You need to be executed."
Castro said the entire situation not only impacts his family but the taxpayers.
"This is a $2.3M process. Let's get it on. Stop costing the people money, stop costing the family heartache and let's get him the sentence that 94th District Court Judge Bobby Galvan handed down to him. It's simple. You did something very malicious, you did something very bad, you did something horrendous, you did something that affected a lot of people's lives. Nothing you can say or do could talk your way out of it. It's your time. It's your time to go."
When we asked Castro what he would say to Ramirez if he had the chance...
"I have no words for him at all. He's a disgusting human being. I think what he did was uncalled for. I don't see any excuse in anyone's book or anyone's mind that could justify his actions."
Angela Rodriguez is currently serving a 99-year prison sentence for murder.
Christina Chavez is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence for aggravated robbery.
Multimedia journalist Seth Kovar contributed to this developing story.