A Texas district judge on Tuesday denied Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez’s motion to recall Corpus Christi death row inmate John Henry Ramirez’s October execution date and death warrant.
Gonzalez and Seth Kretzer, Ramirez’s attorney, told the Caller-Times they plan to challenge 94th District Judge Bobby Galvan’s ruling by filing a joint appeal with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
“I have always and will continue to hold Judge Galvan in the highest regard and we will take his advice as he welcomed us to appeal his decision,” Gonzalez said in a text message to the Caller-Times. “We are in (uncharted) waters and even judges sometimes welcome guidance or answers from higher courts.”
Kretzer called Galvan’s ruling “unprecedented.”
“It is unprecedented for an unopposed/joint motion to withdraw a death warrant to be denied,” he said in an email.
“The Texas Constitution is clear that an elected district attorney is the exclusive legitimate voice for the state of Texas in criminal prosecutions.”
Gonzalez, in his April 14 motion, stated that he believes the death penalty should not be “imposed on Mr. Ramirez or any other person” while he remains in office.
“I’ve been open about not wanting to seek the death penalty, and I think it’d be hypocritical of me as a person not wanting to seek the death penalty and then setting a date of execution for someone, for it to be carried out,” Gonzalez told the Caller-Times after filing the motion.
The motion, however, came just days after one of Gonzalez’s assistant district attorneys requested an execution date for Ramirez be set. Gonzalez said the request was filed without his knowledge.
Galvan then ordered Ramirez’s execution date be set for Oct. 5 — marking the fourth time an execution date has been set.
Ramirez, 37, was sentenced to death by the state in 2008 for the fatal stabbing of Pablo Castro, a 45-year-old convenience store clerk, during a robbery in Corpus Christi.
Both the children of Castro and the Texas Attorney General’s Office have been outspoken in their opposition to Gonzalez’s motion.
An amicus brief filed by Castro’s four children on April 26 argued that the “grief suffered by (the) family has been compounded by near decades of delays in carrying out Ramirez’s sentence.”
The Texas Attorney General’s Office also filed a letter opposing the motion on May 20.
The letter, submitted by the chief of the Texas Attorney General’s Office Criminal Appeals Division, Edward Marshall, argued that the 94th District Court does not have the authority to rescind Ramirez’s execution date and death warrant.
It stated that the court only has such authority under an exclusive set of circumstances, which did not include Gonzalez’s “shifting ethical position” on the death penalty.
Marshall said in the letter that he would step in to represent the state pro tem in the proceeding if Gonzalez did not wish to continue.
Kailey E. Hunt covers breaking news and public safety in South Texas. Help support more local coverage with a subscription at caller.com/subscribe.
This article originally appeared on Corpus Christi Caller Times: Judge denies DA’s motion to withdraw death row inmate’s execution date
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