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What Do We Owe Those We’ve Condemned to Die?


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What Do We Owe Those We’ve Condemned to Die?

What Do We Owe Those We’ve Condemned to Die?

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether John Henry Ramirez, a Texan convicted of murder, is entitled to have his pastor by his side when he’s executed.

By Michael Hall

November 11, 2021

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John Henry Ramirez doesn’t want to be executed, though he knows why a lot of Texans—including the state attorney general and the head of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ)—wish him dead. One night in July 2004, Ramirez, high on cocaine, marijuana, and vodka, drove around Corpus Christi to find someone to rob so he could buy more drugs. He saw Pablo Castro emptying the trash outside the convenience store where he worked. Ramirez stabbed Castro, a 45-year-old father of nine, 29 times, and went through his pockets, stealing $1.25. Castro died, and Ramirez was caught, found guilty of capital murder, and sentenced to die.

Ramirez, now 37, has never claimed innocence. At his 2008 trial he admitted to the murder, and during the punishment phase he instructed his lawyers to stop trying to save him and just read Psalm 51:3 aloud: “For I acknowledge my transgressions and my sin is ever before me.” Today he knows he is destined to die. All Ramirez wants is for his spiritual adviser, Dana Moore, the senior pastor at Second Baptist Church in Corpus Christi, whom he met on death row in 2016, to be at his side when he meets his maker. Ramirez wants Moore to be able to touch him and pray aloud with him. But this summer, the State of Texas denied Ramirez’s request and prepared to execute him. He appealed the decision and, on September 8, when he was scheduled to die, the U. S. Supreme Court stopped the execution until it formally ruled on a question that has vexed the body for several years: Just what do we owe those we have condemned to die at the moment of their deaths?    :snip: 

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