WASHINGTON, D.C. — The case of convicted Corpus Christi murderer John Henry Ramirez has been set before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ramirez's case now will be argued before the nation's highest court on Nov. 9.
Ramirez was convicted and sentenced to death for the 2004 robbery and stabbing of Pablo Castro, a convenience store clerk in Corpus Christi.
The court blocked his execution last month after he claimed his religious rights were violated when the Texas Prison System refused to allow his spiritual adviser in the execution chamber.
"This is quite simply whether or not the state has to comply with laws protecting religious freedoms at the point and time that they put someone to death,” Ramirez's attorney Seth Kretzer said about the case he'll argue before the high court.
The Texas Attorney General's Office doesn't comment on pending litigation, but the briefs they've filed ahead of the Supreme Court hearing shed light on what their arguments will be.
Chief among them is a concern that the presence of a spiritual adviser in the small death chamber could pose safety hazards to the condemned and to prison staff members.
Kretzer already has his rebuttal planned.
“I do not believe they can show you a single example where any pastor has ever interrupted any death penalty proceeding," he said.
Some of Castro's family members hope the Supreme Court sides with the state while others are indifferent as long as Ramirez is finally put to death.
Those who don't want Ramirez to have his pastor by his side point out that Castro wasn't given the same opportunity at the time of his death.
One emotion uniting Castro's family is frustration over repeated delays in Ramirez's execution.
But Kretzer says he's not to blame for those delays.
“I certainly understand their frustration," he said. "But again, it’s not Mr. Ramirez who has imposed these restrictions on the spiritual advisers. It is the State of Texas that has done this.”