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Ramirez execution: What now?

Fernando Castro.jpg
Posted at 6:28 PM, Sep 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-09 20:20:00-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Convicted murderer John Henry Ramirez remains on death row after he he was granted a third stay of execution.

Ramirez was convicted for the murder of Pablo Castro in Corpus Christi in 2004. Ramirez and two others robbed Castro for $1.25, and Ramirez stabbed the man 29 times.

As the call came in from the U.S Supreme Court that put a halt to Ramirez’s execution, Castro’s family was just silent, according to Castro's youngest son Fernando.

“How long does it take to decide, 'Yeah he can be touched, no he can’t be touched?' " Fernando said. "I personally don’t see what the big deal is if that’s all it takes.”

The Castro family is frustrated that Ramirez’s execution was delayed yet again.

“I don’t want to think about this anymore," Fernando said. "He’s had a power over me for such a long time and I don’t like to admit that, but he has. And I just want that over with.”

"My heart bleeds for the family of Pablo Castro," said Ramirez's attorney Seth Kretzer. "I don’t believe the state asked them if they thought Mr. Ramirez should have access to a spiritual advisor."

“I don’t want to think about this anymore. He’s had a power over me for such a long time and I don’t like to admit that, but he has. And I just want that over with.”
-- Fernando Castro, Pablo Castro's son

Fernando said the Castro family has been in contact with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He said no one has spoken to him about the conflict surrounding Ramirez and his pastor in the execution chamber.

"I was talking to my family and, honestly if that's all it took, I'd have been like 'OK have (pastor Dana Moore) touch (Ramirez) while he's dying." Fernando said. "Get it over with, continue, proceed."

Kretzer sued the state on Ramirez's behalf after it said it wouldn't allow Ramirez's spiritual advisor to put his hands on Ramirez and pray at the execution. He also filed a motion to stay the execution until that matter could be resolved.

The battle went up to the Supreme Court, which granted the stay at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. Kretzer said Ramirez's death warrant would have only been applicable until midnight.

What’s next is left up to the Supreme Court. Ramirez’s lawyer said he and the state of Texas will have oral arguments in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in October or November.

“The Supreme Court is tasked with looking at the entire country," Kretzer said. "So they have to craft a rule that will be generally applicable to the courts across the country. So, federal trial judges -- when they’re looking at these stay applications -- know what the rules of the road are."

Kretzer said this isn’t a delay tactic, but an argument for constitutional rights.

"The beautiful thing about the First Amendment -- the freedom of religion under our constitution -- is that it applies to every square inch of this great country," he said. "It applies in the halls of power, just as much as it applies in the hell of an execution chamber."

He said after the oral arguments, a timetable is unpredictable: The Supreme Court can take as much, or as little, time it needs to issue an opinion.

Then he believes the case will go back to trial court for evidence and testimony to be submitted.

Meanwhile, the Castro family just wants justice for Pablo.

"We want this to be over," Fernando said.

Kretzer said he filed a similar civil-rights lawsuit in 2020 on Ramirez's behalf. In that instance, the state agreed to delay Ramirez's execution and Kretzer dropped the lawsuit.

The first time Ramirez's execution was delayed was in 2017.