Another Texas execution delayed on religious freedom claims

Lona Huebner

This undated picture offered by the Texas Office of Felony Justice displays Ruben Gutierrez. A different Texas inmate has had his scheduled execution delayed about statements the condition is violating his spiritual freedom by not permitting his spiritual adviser lay arms on him at the time of his lethal injection. […]

This undated photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows Ruben Gutierrez. Another Texas inmate has had his scheduled execution delayed over claims the state is violating his religious freedom by not letting his spiritual adviser lay hands on him at the time of his lethal injection. Gutierrez had been set to be executed on Oct. 27 for fatally stabbing an 85-year-old Brownsville woman in 1998. But a judge on Wednesday granted a request by the Cameron County District Attorney's Office to vacate the execution date. (Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP)

This undated picture offered by the Texas Office of Felony Justice displays Ruben Gutierrez. A different Texas inmate has had his scheduled execution delayed about statements the condition is violating his spiritual freedom by not permitting his spiritual adviser lay arms on him at the time of his lethal injection. Gutierrez experienced been set to be executed on Oct. 27 for fatally stabbing an 85-year-outdated Brownsville girl in 1998. But a choose on Wednesday granted a ask for by the Cameron County District Attorney’s Business office to vacate the execution day. (Texas Department of Felony Justice by using AP)

This undated photograph delivered by the Texas Division of Criminal Justice shows Ruben Gutierrez. Yet another Texas inmate has had his scheduled execution delayed in excess of statements the condition is violating his spiritual freedom by not allowing his religious adviser lay hands on him at the time of his lethal injection. Gutierrez experienced been established to be executed on Oct. 27 for fatally stabbing an 85-12 months-outdated Brownsville girl in 1998. But a decide on Wednesday granted a request by the Cameron County District Attorney’s Workplace to vacate the execution date. (Texas Division of Felony Justice by using AP)

HOUSTON (AP) — Another Texas inmate has had his execution delayed over promises the point out is violating his religious liberty by not allowing his spiritual adviser lay fingers on him at the time of his lethal injection.

Ruben Gutierrez was established to be executed on Oct. 27 for fatally stabbing an 85-year-previous Brownsville female in 1998.

But a choose on Wednesday granted a ask for by the Cameron County District Attorney’s Business office to vacate the execution day. Prosecutors stated the U.S. Supreme Court’s impending assessment of very similar spiritual freedom difficulties produced by an additional inmate, John Henry Ramirez, whose execution the large court docket delayed previous 7 days, will effect Gutierrez’s scenario.

“As the Ramirez subject may well be dispositive of any problem associated to Gutierrez’s spiritual liberty declare, it is in the finest interest of the condition, the relatives of the victim of Gutierrez’s crimes, that his execution be delayed,” prosecutors reported in a motion submitted Tuesday.

Gutierrez was beforehand an hour absent from execution in June 2020 when the Supreme Court docket granted him a stay since his spiritual adviser was not authorized to accompany him in the loss of life chamber.

Final thirty day period, Gutierrez’s attorneys submitted a complaint in federal court docket alleging the Texas Department of Felony Justice was violating his suitable to observe his faith by denying his request to have his priest contact his shoulder, pray out loud and perform past rites when he was executed.

Gutierrez, 44, explained that these a few things require to be accomplished “to ensure my route to the afterlife,” according to his grievance.

His lawyers cited the Constitution’s Initially Modification and a federal statute that safeguards an inmate’s spiritual legal rights. Ramirez made related claims when he was granted a remain.

The Supreme Court has dealt with the presence of religious advisers in the loss of life chamber in latest yrs but has not designed a definitive ruling on the challenge. That could adjust immediately after it hears oral arguments in Ramirez’s scenario on Nov. 1.

The courtroom was criticized right after it declined to halt the February 2019 execution of Alabama inmate Domineque Ray about his request to have his Islamic non secular adviser in the death chamber, but then a month later on granted a stay for Texas inmate Patrick Murphy, who required his Buddhist spiritual adviser in the chamber.

Considering that then, the Supreme Courtroom has delayed a number of executions in excess of requests for non secular advisers.

Soon after the court halted Murphy’s execution, the Texas jail program banned all clergy from the loss of life chamber. Texas formerly permitted condition-employed clergy to accompany inmates, but its prison staff members provided only Christian and Muslim clerics.

In April, the Texas jail technique reversed its two-12 months ban. The new coverage allows an inmate’s approved non secular adviser to be in the chamber, but the two are unable to have any call and vocal prayers are not authorized throughout the execution. Texas jail officers say direct call poses a safety risk and vocal prayer could be disruptive.

Robert Dunham, executive director of the Loss of life Penalty Details Heart, mentioned the Ramirez circumstance is an opportunity for the Supreme Court docket to identify if inmates have the correct to a non secular adviser in a dying chamber and if so, what is permitted in working out that correct.

“The reality this circumstance can deliver the court docket with an opportunity to lay out a blueprint for what is and what is not satisfactory, which is not a assurance that they’ll do it,” claimed Dunham, whose team will take no position on funds punishment but has criticized the way states have out executions.

If the Supreme Court does not deliver very clear steerage, this issue will frequently come up, Dunham claimed.

Gutierrez has long preserved he didn’t eliminate Escolastica Harrison throughout what prosecutors say was an try to steal a lot more than $600,000 that the elderly girl had hidden in her dwelling.

His attorneys have asked for DNA screening they say could position to the true killer.

Prosecutors have claimed that ask for is a “ruse” and that Gutierrez was convicted on several pieces of proof, together with a confession.

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Adhere to Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70

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