CAMERON COUNTY, Texas (KVEO) — A man convicted of murdering an 85-year-old woman in 1998 is scheduled to be executed in October after years of appeals and delays.
In 1999, Ruben Gutierrez, 43, was found guilty of killing Brownsville resident Escolastica Harrison, 85, in 1998.
Through the course of the trial, it was revealed Gutierrez stabbed Harrison 13 times with a screwdriver as he and two others robbed the Brownsville home.
Gutierrez was sentenced to death in 1999 and remained on death row for 20 years as his execution date approached.
However, his first execution date was delayed in July 2019 due to a clerical error. When the next execution date approached in October 2019, another clerical error delayed Gutierrez’s death to 2020.
In all this time, Gutierrez maintained his innocence and his attorneys argued that DNA testing was never performed through the course of the investigation. They believe this is evidence that would demonstrate he did not commit the murder of Harrison.
Before his next execution date, Gutierrez attracted national attention when Kim Kardashian West tweeted about his innocent claims in June 2020.
Gutierrez was about one hour away from execution on June 16, 2020, when he was granted another “stay of execution” that delayed the matter as his attorneys had argued his religious rights are being violated because the prison system won’t allow a chaplain to accompany him in the death chamber.
The case was further delayed in March 2021 when the court agreed to allow for DNA testing in the case.
However, the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office argued that the court does not have jurisdiction to use DNA evidence in this case.
They appealed the DNA ruling and on Thursday the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office, removing access to DNA testing in Gutierrez’s case.
Luis Saenz, Cameron County District Attorney, is now stating the execution date will be October 27.
“This is not a case where any DNA test will pinpoint the identity of the killer,” Saenz wrote in a Facebook post. “The convicted murderer confessed to the police, his co-conspirator confessed and identified him as the killer.”
Barring any more litigation, Gutierrez will face execution on October 27, 22 years after he was convicted of Harrison’s murder.