One other Texas inmate has had his execution delayed over claims the state is violating his non secular freedom by not letting his non secular adviser lay fingers on him on the time of his deadly injection
HOUSTON — One other Texas inmate has had his execution delayed over claims the state is violating his non secular freedom by not letting his non secular adviser lay fingers on him on the time of his deadly injection.
Ruben Gutierrez was set to be executed on Oct. 27 for fatally stabbing an 85-year-old Brownsville lady in 1998.
However a choose on Wednesday granted a request by the Cameron County District Legal professional’s Workplace to vacate the execution date. Prosecutors mentioned the U.S. Supreme Courtroom’s upcoming evaluate of comparable non secular freedom points made by one other inmate, John Henry Ramirez, whose execution the excessive court docket delayed final week, will impression Gutierrez’s case.
“Because the Ramirez matter could also be dispositive of any subject associated to Gutierrez’s non secular liberty declare, it’s in the most effective curiosity of the state, the household of the sufferer of Gutierrez’s crimes, that his execution be delayed,” prosecutors mentioned in a movement filed Tuesday.
Gutierrez was beforehand an hour away from execution in June 2020 when the Supreme Courtroom granted him a keep as a result of his non secular adviser was not allowed to accompany him within the dying chamber.
Final month, Gutierrez’s attorneys filed a grievance in federal court docket alleging the Texas Division of Felony Justice was violating his proper to observe his faith by denying his request to have his priest contact his shoulder, pray out loud and carry out final rites when he was executed.
Gutierrez, 44, mentioned that these three issues have to be achieved “to make sure my path to the afterlife,” in accordance with his grievance.
His attorneys cited the Structure’s First Modification and a federal statute that protects an inmate’s non secular rights. Ramirez made comparable claims when he was granted a keep.
The Supreme Courtroom has handled the presence of non secular advisers within the dying chamber in recent times however has not made a definitive ruling on the problem. That would change after it hears oral arguments in Ramirez’s case on Nov. 1.
The court docket was criticized after it declined to halt the February 2019 execution of Alabama inmate Domineque Ray over his request to have his Islamic non secular adviser within the dying chamber, however then a month later granted a keep for Texas inmate Patrick Murphy, who needed his Buddhist non secular adviser within the chamber.
Since then, the Supreme Courtroom has delayed a number of executions over requests for non secular advisers.
After the court docket halted Murphy’s execution, the Texas jail system banned all clergy from the dying chamber. Texas beforehand allowed state-employed clergy to accompany inmates, however its jail employees included solely Christian and Muslim clerics.
In April, the Texas jail system reversed its two-year ban. The brand new coverage permits an inmate’s authorised non secular adviser to be within the chamber, however the two can’t have any contact and vocal prayers will not be allowed through the execution. Texas jail officers say direct contact poses a safety threat and vocal prayer could possibly be disruptive.
Robert Dunham, government director of the Loss of life Penalty Data Heart, mentioned the Ramirez case is a chance for the Supreme Courtroom to find out if inmates have the fitting to a non secular adviser in a dying chamber and in that case, what’s permitted in exercising that proper.
“The very fact this case can present the court docket with a possibility to put out a blueprint for what’s and what’s not acceptable, that’s not a assure that they’ll do it,” mentioned Dunham, whose group takes no place on capital punishment however has criticized the way in which states perform executions.
If the Supreme Courtroom doesn’t present clear steerage, this subject will regularly come up, Dunham mentioned.
Gutierrez has lengthy maintained he didn’t kill Escolastica Harrison throughout what prosecutors say was an try and steal greater than $600,000 that the aged lady had hidden in her residence.
His attorneys have requested DNA testing they are saying might level to the true killer.
Prosecutors have mentioned that request is a “ruse” and that Gutierrez was convicted on numerous items of proof, together with a confession.