Execution cannot proceed without religious request

Houston (AP) —A federal judge grants Texas prison officials all his religious accommodation, including allowing his spiritual adviser to hold his hand. , Issued a temporary order telling him that he could carry out the scheduled execution of the death row prisoner next week when he received a fatal injection.

Ramiro Gonzalez, a woman in southwest Texas, will be executed on July 13 for shooting and killing 18-year-old Bridget Townsend, whose body was found nearly two years later. She disappeared in 2001..

Gonzales, 39, asked his spiritual adviser to be put in the death room when he was executed. Then she can pray aloud, hold her hand and put the other hand on her chest.

“Receiving the touch of God is a sacred concept of the Bible, and even leprosy patients have been touched by God. As I am spiritually transitioning to God’s paradise, the specific physical I requested. Contact is very important to me, “Gonzales said in a court document filed last month.

Texas Criminal Justice officials acknowledged all Gonzales requests, except allowing his spiritual adviser to hold his hand. Authorities argue that allowing the hand to be held could be a security risk, as advisors are too close to the lethal injection line and are out of sight of authorities and witnesses. I am.

A temporary injunction issued by Houston U.S. District Judge Charles Escridge on Tuesday, ordering Texas prison officials to allow all religious accommodation in Gonzales, was issued by a death prisoner to his Texas prison system. It follows a civil lawsuit accusing him of violating religious freedom.

Amanda Hernandez, a spokeswoman for the Texas Criminal Justice Department, said Wednesday that her agency “is still evaluating the court’s decision.”

A spokesman for the Texas Attorney General did not immediately return an email asking for comment.

In court documents, the Texas Attorney General’s office claimed that the prison system did not impose a “substantial burden on Gonzales’ religious exercise.”

“His spiritual adviser is physically present in the room, thereby not only fulfilling Gonzales’s claim of spiritual importance, but she also approaches Gonzales closely and physics with the heart of his chest. We will maintain contact with you, “said the Secretary of Justice’s office, a document submitted last month in court.

Various executions in Texas I was late last year In a legal question about Texas refusing to allow a mental adviser to touch a prisoner and allow a accused individual to pray aloud when sentenced to death. April 2021, Texas Prison System Overturned the two-year ban To the spiritual adviser of the Death Room, however, limited what they could do.

March, Supreme Court ruled The state must respond to the convict on death row’s request to have the spiritual counsel of the convict on death row pray aloud and touch them during the execution.

In the High Court’s view, Supreme Court Justice John Roberts urged the state to adopt clear rules in advance to avoid last-minute appeals to federal courts.

However, the Texas prison system refused to formally update the rule and chose to consider such a request instead. Case by case.. Some defendant lawyers were worried that if they did not outline certain rules, they would increase the court’s objections, such as those filed by Gonzales.

Gonzales was accused of murdering Townsend, a drug dealer’s girlfriend. Gonzales kidnapped Townsend from his home in Bandera County in January 2001 after stealing his drugs and money.

In a confession to police, Gonzales said she had taken her to a family ranch in neighboring Medina County, where she had been sexually assaulted and then shot deadly.

Townsend was not found until October 2002, when Gonzales led authorities to her body after being sentenced to two life imprisonments for kidnapping and raping another woman.

Gonzales lawyers on Tuesday also requested the Texas Criminal Appeals Court to continue executions. Last week, they made another request to give Republican Governor Greg Abbott a 30-day grace period. Gonzales can donate kidneys..


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