BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with a Texas death row inmate who is seeking to have a pastor present during his execution.
This is a similar appeal used by Ruben Gutierrez who has been on death row for murder since the 1990s. Now, the victim’s family is speaking out.
“He’s always asking for something else. Again, he needs to accept what your peers said needed to be done and justice needs to be served,” said Alex Hernandez, the nephew of Escolastica Harrison, who was brutally murdered in her Brownsville home in 1998.
Ruben Gutierrez was found guilty of her murder and has been on death row for the past 20 years. The District Attorney’s office said there has been a number of factors contributing to the delay.
“Gutierrez was set to be executed June of 2020 and at the last minute the Supreme Court stepped in and halted the execution because they wanted to hear his point that he was raising that he was entitled to have a spiritual advisor lay hands on him as the execution was being carried out,” said Luis Saenz, Cameron County District Attorney.
Hernandez and his family are not on board with Gutierrez’s latest appeal to have a pastor present during his execution.
“It sounds kind of crude but I mean, did he ask my aunt if she wanted a pastor, you know when he was putting a screwdriver in her neck?” said Hernandez.
While the Supreme Court has not made a decision on Gutierrez’s appeal, the district attorney said it could be granted.
“Other inmates that are set for execution will make the same claim. I suspect they are going to take it case by case but I believe it’s probably going to be allowed,” said Saenz.
On Thursday, Gutierrez also filed a motion for DNA testing in his murder conviction. Hernandez said this is just another way for him to buy time, but all he wants is closure.
“We can be at peace, we can be at rest we don’t have to worry about is this guy is gone or not, it’s done and we can think of and remember everything good about my aunt,” said Hernandez.
District Attorney Saenz said Gutierrez has exhausted all state appeals and is moving to his federal appeals. They hope to have an update later this year.