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Texas death row prisoner asks Supreme Court to stay Wednesday execution

Texas death row prisoner asks Supreme Court to stay Wednesday execution
John Ramirez was sentenced to death for the 2004 murder of Pablo Castro in Texas. File Photo courtesy of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Sept. 7 (UPI) -- A Texas death row prisoner on Tuesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a lower court's denial of his request for a stay based on religious grounds.

John Ramirez, 37, is scheduled to be executed Wednesday for the 2004 murder of convenience store worker Pablo Castro in Corpus Christi, Texas.

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Ramirez sought to have his execution stayed citing the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's policies on spiritual advisers during executions. The state allows a spiritual adviser into the death chamber, but Ramirez asked for Pastor Dana Moore to be allowed to put his hands on him and pray out loud during the execution.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, however, that allowing the spiritual adviser to touch Ramirez during the execution could botch the procedure.

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Tuesday's filing asks the U.S. Supreme Court to review the appellate court's decision.

In a separate filing, his lawyers also asked the Supreme Court to issue its own stay to give time to resolve the initial request of a review.

The TDCJ banned any chaplains from entering the state's execution chambers in 2019. The decision came after the Supreme Court stayed an execution after Texas declined to allow the inmate to have a Buddhist spiritual adviser with him during the lethal injection.

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The state lifted the ban in April, revising its policy to allow death row prisoners to designate a TDCJ chaplain or other spiritual adviser of their choosing to be present inside the death chamber.

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