Texas death row inmate, John Henry Ramirez, who is challenging the Texas Department of Criminal Justice execution process on religious grounds is scheduled to be executed Wednesday at the Huntsville “Walls” Unit at 6 p.m. by lethal injection.
John Henry Ramirez, 37, who is awaiting execution for a 2004 murder in Corpus Christi, was denied a stay request on Monday from a federal appeals court. His attorney’s argued that state prison officials would violate federal law and Christian traditions by refusing to allow his pastor to be present and directly minister to him when he dies by lethal injection.
The lawsuit alleges violations of the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 – and a prison policy break from 560 Texas executions from 1982 to 2019 that allowed the execution chamber presence of state-employed religious advisers.
Two prior execution dates for Ramirez were canceled in 2017 and 2020.
Since 2019, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down TDCJ’s protocol for execution attendance after a dispute with a Buddhist prisoner. State prison officials have since revised the execution attendance protocol for religious advisers.
On July 19, 2004, Ramirez and two women, Angela Rodriguez and Christina Chavez, were driving around in a van looking for people to rob for drug money when they spotted Pablo Castro taking the trash out from the convenience store on Baldwin Boulevard where he worked, according to court records. Rodriguez and Ramirez approached Castro, and Ramirez slashed his throat and repeatedly stabbed him in his head, neck, shoulders and back. Prosecutors argued he was robbed for $1.25.
Rodriguez is currently serving a life sentence for murder, and Chavez pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery and got a 25-year sentence, according to prison records. She is scheduled to be released in 2029.
If carried out, Ramirez will be the sixth person to be executed by lethal injection in the United States this year and third in Texas.