A Texas death row inmate is set to be executed Wednesday after winning his lengthy Supreme Court battle to have his pastor pray over him as the lethal injection is administered.
John Henry Ramirez, 38, was sentenced to death over the 2004 fatal stabbing of 46-year-old convenience store clerk Pablo Castro during a drug-fueled string of robberies.
His execution date was delayed last year after Ramirez claimed his religious freedom was being violated because state prison rules prevented his pastor from touching him and praying aloud during the procedure.
Ramirez’s fight ended up clarifying the role of spiritual advisers in death chambers nationwide after the US Supreme Court sided with the convicted murderer in March.
The court ruled that states must accommodate the wishes of death row inmates who want to have their religious leaders with them during executions.
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles declined on Monday to commute Ramirez’s death sentence to a lesser penalty.
Ramirez has exhausted all possible appeals and there is no final request to the Supreme Court planned, his attorney Seth Kretzer said.
Ramirez was convicted of stabbing Castro 29 times in a robbery that cops said was the culmination of a three-day binge fueled by a mix of pot, pills, booze and cocaine — and yielded him just $1.25.
He fled to Mexico immediately after but was arrested 3 1/2 years later.
Kretzer said that while he feels empathy for the victim’s family, his client’s legal challenge was about protecting religious freedoms for all — noting that even Nazi war criminals were provided ministers before their executions after World War II.
“That was not a reflection on some favor we were doing for the Nazis,” Kretzer said. “Providing religious administration at the time of death is a reflection of the relative moral strength of the captors.”
When Ramirez is getting his lethal injection, his spiritual adviser, Dana Moore, will also be able to hold a Bible in the death chamber, which previously hadn’t been allowed, Kretzer said.
If Ramirez’s execution goes ahead as planned, he would be the third inmate put to death this year in Texas and the 11th in the country.
With Post wires