Ramiro Gonzales Execution Scheduled For Today

Ramiro Gonzales Execution
Ramiro Gonzales

The State of Texas is getting ready to execute Ramiro Gonzales for the sexual assault and murder of Bridget Townsend in 2001

According to court documents Ramiro Gonzales would go to the home of Bridget Townsend boyfriend in order to rob him of drugs and money. However once at the home Ramiro was confronted by Bridget Townsend. Gonzales would sexually assault and murder the teen girl

Ramiro Gonzales would be arrested after he sexually assaulted another woman and when in custody he would confess to the murder of Bridget Townsend and lead them to her body

Ramiro Gonzales would be convicted and sentenced to death

Texas is planning on executing Ramiro Gonzales this evening, June 26 2024, by lethal injection

Update – Ramiro Gonzales was executed on June 26 2024

Ramiro Gonzales Execution News

The State of Texas is set to execute Ramiro Gonzales on Wednesday evening for a 2001 murder he committed when he was 18. His latest legal challenges were based in part on his mother’s alcohol use while she was pregnant with him and the sexual abuse he suffered as a child.

In recent pleadings, Gonzales, now 41, said that he never received a proper post-conviction review and that he sought to reduce his sentence to life in prison. Gonzales also argued that he is ineligible for capital punishment since a state expert recanted testimony that Gonzales would always pose a risk of violence to others — a finding that is required to receive the death penalty under Texas state law.

While serving time for an unrelated assault in 2002, Gonzales confessed to the rape and murder of Bridget Townsend in Medina County, west of San Antonio, and guided police to her remains. Gonzales fatally shot Townsend in 2001, when both were 18 years old, after she intervened while he was trying to steal drugs at the home of her boyfriend, who was his drug dealer, according to court records.

In a clemency application, Gonzales said that while on death row since 2006, he has devoted his life to Christianity and served as a spiritual leader for others facing the death penalty. On Monday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously rejected Gonzales’ request for leniency.

In a statement on Monday, Gonzales’ attorneys, Thea Posel and Raoul Schonemann, called their client “a man who today is, in almost every sense, a different person than he was when he killed Bridget Townsend in 2001.”

“Ramiro lives this transformation every day,” they said, “and it is evident to prison officials, faith leaders, friends, family, his lawyers and many people across the country and the world who have seen and been touched by his story, his growth, his faith and his commitment to change.”

A pleading filed this month by Gonzales’ legal team challenging his death sentence asserted that he didn’t receive effective counsel during his post-conviction review. His initial petition for that review was deemed “frivolous” by the courts.

Gonzales’ court-appointed lawyer at the time did not conduct an investigation and failed to present evidence in the initial petition that Gonzales’ mother regularly drank alcohol during her pregnancy, a June pleading read. Gonzales was later diagnosed with a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. The initial petition also failed to outline the impact of sexual abuse by a family member that Gonzales endured throughout his childhood, according to court filings.

Gonzales never had the “one full and fair opportunity” to file an adequate habeas petition, Posel said.

Posel said such a deficient initial petition would not happen today, now that attorneys and investigators from the Office of Capital and Forensic Writs, which opened in 2010, are available for nearly all capital post-conviction cases.

Gonzales’ pleading this month cited research about his childhood conducted by Kate Porterfield, a clinical psychologist who studies the impact of trauma on children.

“The crimes that he committed are tragically and inextricably linked to the trauma he suffered and the lack of care provided to him,” Porterfield said of Gonzales’ childhood.

The failure to properly investigate and present this evidence during Gonzales’ initial habeas petition showed that his lawyer was ineffective, his current legal team argued while asking the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to reconsider its dismissal. The state’s highest criminal court denied the request on Monday.

Gonzales’ legal team asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals’ denial and halt his execution, arguing that Gonzales does not present a future danger to others and so cannot be executed under Texas law. That petition was still pending as of Wednesday morning.

In his clemency application, Gonzales said he feels daily remorse for his actions and the impact the killing has had on Townsend’s family.

“I took everything that was valuable from a mother, just because of my stupidity, because of what I did, because of my actions. And you can’t give that back,” Gonzales said in a video submitted to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles on June 4 as part of his clemency application.

In 2022, Gonzales requested a reprieve to donate a kidney to a stranger, which was denied. But that same year, the court halted Gonzales’ execution to consider the false testimony by Dr. Edward Gripon, a forensic psychiatrist.

During the punishment phase of Gonzales’ trial, Gripon had testified that there was substantial evidence that people who commit rape will likely continue committing sexual offenses. Gripon later reported that those statistics are inaccurate. State courts ruled that despite the reversal, the execution could take place.

Gonzales’ attorneys had also attempted to halt his execution because of his age at the time of the crime. They cited multiple studies and medical or legal associations that have proposed raising the age for death penalty eligibility from 18 to 21, based on brain development.

Alongside his clemency application, a group of faith leaders had sent a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott, asking him to spare Gonzales’ life and allow him to spend the rest of his life serving others in custody.

“Even if he never sees the light of day as a free person, he can bring that inner light to others in the darkest corners of our society just by being there and sharing the faith he has,” said Cantor Michael Zoosman, co-founder of L’chaim! Jews Against the Death Penalty, in the clemency video.

https://www.texastribune.org/2024/06/26/texas-execution-ramiro-gonzales

Ramiro Gonzales Execution

Texas executed Ramiro Gonzales by lethal injection on Wednesday for a 2001 murder, the state Department of Criminal Justice said, following unsuccessful appeals to the US Supreme Court that argued, in part, he should have been ineligible for the death penalty under state law because he is no longer dangerous.

Gonzales, 41, was convicted and sentenced to death in 2006 for the sexual assault and killing of 18-year-old Bridget Townsend, court records show. His execution was the first of two – the other in Oklahoma – scheduled this week in the United States.

Gonzales was pronounced dead at 6:50 p.m., the state criminal justice department said.

The department provided Gonzales’ last statement before he was executed, in which he repeatedly apologized to the Townsend family and said he “never stopped praying” for their forgiveness: “I can’t put into words the pain I have caused y’all, the hurt what I took away that I cannot give back.”

“I hope this apology is enough. I lived the rest of this life for you guys to the best of my ability for restitution, restoration, taking responsibility,” Gonzales said. “I never stopped praying that you would forgive me and that one day I would have this opportunity to apologize.”

During the penalty phase of Gonzales’ trial, jurors were required to find, as they are in all capital cases in Texas, a “probability” Gonzales would continue to “commit criminal acts of violence.” Without this determination, capital defendants in the Lone Star State are not eligible for the death penalty, per state law.

In their appeals to the Supreme Court, Gonzales’ attorneys said his track record these last 18 years shows he is not dangerous, pointing to his commitment to his Christian faith, ministry to others behind bars and his unsuccessful attempts to donate a kidney to a stranger in need.

Additionally, they said the evidence relied upon to make the finding of future dangerousness was false: An expert witness who diagnosed the inmate with antisocial personality disorder relied on recidivism data later found to be incorrect, and he has since evaluated Gonzales and walked back his testimony.

In a pair of brief orders Wednesday, the US Supreme Court gave no comment in its denial of Gonzales’ requests. There were no noted dissents.

Gonzales’ attorneys, Thea Posel and Raoul Schonemann, said in a statement Monday: “Ramiro not only has disproven the jury’s prediction – he has never committed a single act or threat of violence since he was sentenced to death in 2006 – but in fact actively contributes to prison society in exceptional ways. He should not be executed.”

The state of Texas had also opposed Gonzales’ appeals, arguing in part his team had misconstrued the eligibility requirement and contending the question of whether Gonzales would continue to be a threat is not limited to the inmate’s behavior on death row.

Even when his behavior post-conviction is taken into account, “there’s undoubtedly sufficient evidence to uphold the finding of future dangerousness,” attorneys for the state wrote, pointing to the subsequent kidnapping and rape of another woman and a litany of transgressions he committed while in jail.

“Even if a jury could somehow consider events that had not happened yet, i.e., Gonzales’s behavior on death row, the jury could still have rationally believed Gonzales would be a danger in the future,” they said.

On Monday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles declined to recommend clemency in a 7-0 vote. Without that recommendation, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is limited by state law to issuing Gonzales a one-time 30-day reprieve.

CNN has reached out to the Medina County Criminal District Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case, and members of Townsend’s family for comment.

In his final statement before execution, Gonzales also thanked his family and friends, along with two officials with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for “the opportunity to become responsible, to learn accountability and to make good.”

Gonzales murdered Townsend in January 2001, after he called the home of his drug supplier, her boyfriend, in search of drugs, according to a 2009 Texas appeals court opinion affirming the inmate’s conviction and death sentence.

When Townsend told Gonzales her boyfriend wasn’t home, he went to the house in search of drugs. He stole money, then kidnapped Townsend, tying her hands and feet before driving her to a location near his family’s ranch, the opinion states. There, he raped and fatally shot her, it says.

The case went unsolved for 18 months. Then, while sitting in jail after pleading guilty to the rape of another woman, Gonzales confessed to Townsend’s killing and led authorities to her body.

Gonzales’ execution was the nation’s eighth this year, with the ninth slated for Thursday in Oklahoma, according to data from the Death Penalty Information Center, a non-profit organization that tracks capital punishment in the US and has in the past been critical of the way it’s administered.

Oklahoma intends to execute Richard Rojem for the 1984 kidnapping, rape and murder of his 7-year-old stepdaughter, Layla Cummings, court records show. The state’s parole board voted last week against recommending clemency for Rojem, who claims he is innocent, according to CNN affiliate KOCO.

Rojem, like Gonzales, would be the second person executed in their respective states so far in 2024, according to the center’s data. By this time last year, 13 inmates had been put to death in the US, the data shows.

https://www.cnn.com/2024/06/26/us/texas-death-row-ramiro-gonzales/index.html

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