Ruben Gutierrez stay of execution lifted

Local News

Brownsville convicted murderer scheduled for July death penalty (Source: Ruben Gutierrez // Mug shot via Texas Department of Criminal Justice)

BROWNSVILLE — The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted an appeal to lift the stay of execution for Ruben Gutierrez, who was found guilty of committing murder in 1999.

With this decision, Gutierrez is set to be executed on June 16, 2020 at 6:00 p.m.

Gutierrez appealed for the stay of execution after he claimed that DNA testing was never performed.

Additionally, Gutierrez felt his First Amendment rights were violated because officials are refusing to allow a chaplain to accompany him during his final moments in the execution chamber.

The Fifth Court of Appeals in New Orleans found that Gutierrez failed to show either reason is a valid argument for stay of excecution.

For the first issue, the court wrote:

“Gutierrez failed to show that the State Court of Criminal Appeals application of the Texas DNA Testing Law was fundamentally unfair to him. The Fifth Circuit found the Texas DNA Testing Law was not only facially constitutional but constitutional as applied to him.”

For the latter issue, the court wrote:

“Gutierrez failed to show the Prison rule not permitting a religious advisor in the execution chamber at the time of execution (1) was not reasonably related to prison security concerns and therefore the Prison rule was not a violation of his right to freely exercise religion & (2) created a substantial burden on his religious beliefs and causes him to modify his religious behavior and significantly violate his religious beliefs and therefore the Prison Rule was not a violation of First Amendment or the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.”

Gutierrez was found guilty of the murder of Escolastica Harrison in 1999.

Also on Friday, a state court denied a stay of execution for Gutierrez.

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