CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Pablo Castro's youngest son traveled from his home in Florida to the Texas state prison in Huntsville in September to see his father's killer get executed.
But hours before the scheduled lethal injection, the United States Supreme Court issued a stay of execution for John Henry Ramirez because the state was denying his request to have his spiritual adviser's hands on him and praying with him as he was put to death.
“I was in complete shock," Fernando Castro said. "I thought for sure that this time, you know, that they had him. But obviously that didn’t happen.”
It was the third stay of Ramirez's execution since 2017, and it prompted Tuesday's hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The justices heard arguments from the Texas Solicitor General Judd Stone and Seth Kretzer, Ramirez's attorney.
One of the state's main arguments was the belief that Ramirez's request was not an example of religious devotion but a stall tactic to remain alive.
“Each time he litigates a right of execution date he receives another lengthy reprieve," Stone testified before the high court. "This court should not countenance the delay of a fourth execution date.”
Kretzer argued that denying Ramirez's request is a violation of his religious rights.
He left court confident that the justices will side with Ramirez and set a precedent for all executions moving forward.
“I believe that it is most likely that they’re going to enunciate a national rule that non-disruptive audible prayer can never be prohibited,” he said.
Kretzer believes it will be at least a couple of months before the Supreme Court returns their ruling.
It would then be at least three more months before the state could execute Ramirez.
Castro's son doesn't care what the justices decide.
He just wants to see his father's killer put to death.
“I want this behind me," Fernando Castro said. "I’ve thought about it for so long. I just — I wish it was over.”
To hear all of the audio from Tuesday's Supreme Court hearing click here.
To read the complete transcript of that hearing click here.