Texas Executes Man Regardless of Reversal From Physician Who Helped Ship Him To Dying Row

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Texas executed Ramiro Gonzales on Wednesday regardless of a surprising reversal from a psychiatrist who helped ship him to loss of life row 17 years in the past.

Gonzales, 41, was killed by deadly injection at 6:50 p.m. Central time as punishment for kidnapping, raping and murdering Bridget Townsend after they had been each 18. On the time, Gonzales was combating drug habit. He killed Townsend, his drug seller’s girlfriend, whereas making an attempt to steal medicine. He had turned 18 two months earlier than the killing, making him barely sufficiently old to be legally eligible to be sentenced to loss of life.

In his last phrases, Gonzales apologized to the Townsend household. “I’m sorry I can’t articulate, 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 lived the rest of this life for you guys to the best of my ability for restitution, restoration, taking responsibility … I’m sorry.”

“The Ramiro who the state of Texas killed tonight was not the Ramiro who committed these crimes twenty years ago,” Gonzales’ attorneys, Thea Posel and Raoul Schonemann mentioned in a assertion. “The Ramiro who left this world was, by all accounts, a deeply spiritual, generous, patient, and intentional person, full of remorse, someone whose driving force was love. He sought to spread and embody love in all aspects of his life, even in the deprivation and physical isolation of death row where he lived for the past 18 years.”

“Ramiro knew he took something from this world he could never give back,” Gonzales’ attorneys mentioned. “He lived with that shame every day, and it shaped the person he worked so hard to become. If this country’s legal system was intended to encourage rehabilitation, he would be an exemplar.”

Patricia Townsend, the mom of Bridget Townsend, beforehand informed USA Right now that Gonzales’ execution can be a “joyful occasion” for her household, noting that it happened on her daughter’s birthday. Bridget Townsend “was a beautiful person who loved life and loved people,” she mentioned. “Every time she was with somebody she hadn’t seen in a while, she had to hug ’em.”

Texas is the one state that requires jurors to find out that the defendant is prone to commit legal acts of violence that might “constitute a continuing threat to society” with a view to impose a loss of life sentence. Throughout Gonzales’ 2006 trial, psychiatrist Edward Gripon testified that Gonzales derived pleasure from acts of sexual violence and was unlikely to cease or be rehabilitated.

Fifteen years later, Gripon reevaluated Gonzales and reversed his evaluation, citing his prior reliance on a debunked statistic and witness testimony that has since been recanted. It was the primary time the psychiatrist had issued a report altering his opinion in a loss of life penalty case, Gripon informed The Marshall Undertaking in 2022.

Ramiro Gonzales was sentenced to loss of life after a psychiatrist predicted he would pose a future hazard. The psychiatrist later reversed his evaluation.

Texas Defender Service/Elisabetta Diorio

Like most individuals on loss of life row, Gonzales skilled abuse and neglect as a baby. His mom, who was 17 when he was born, struggled with drug and alcohol habit and turned Gonzales over to her dad and mom, based on a petition for clemency, which the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected earlier this month. The primary time Gonzales met his father was when he was 19 and so they had been each locked up within the county jail.

Beginning on the age of 6, Gonzales was repeatedly sexually abused, together with by a cousin. One of many few members of the family Gonzales felt near, his aunt Loretta, was killed in a automotive accident when he was 15. He turned to cocaine and methamphetamine to deal with the grief, and dropped out of college, stealing and forging checks to pay for medicine.

Two months after his 18th birthday, Gonzales determined to rob his drug seller’s house. When Townsend, who was alone inside, tried to name her boyfriend, Gonzales assaulted and killed her. After he was arrested for sexually assaulting a special lady, Gonzales confessed to killing Townsend.

“He doesn’t deserve mercy,” Patricia Townsend informed USA Right now. “And his childhood should not have anything to do with it. I know a lot of people that had a hard childhood … He made his choice.”

Gonzales was beforehand scheduled to be executed in 2022. Shortly earlier than his execution date, Gripon supplied Gonzales’ appellate attorneys together with his reevaluation report, through which he acknowledged errors in his trial testimony.

In 2006, Gripon had testified that recidivism charges amongst individuals who commit intercourse offenses are as excessive as 80%. In his second report, he described how that quantity was later traced again to a 1986 Psychology Right now article and located to be baseless.

Gripon additionally initially relied on written statements from Gonzales’ cellmate, Frederick Ozuna, that described Gonzales confessing to returning to the crime scene a number of occasions to have “sex with the body.” In a sworn declaration, Ozuna later recanted these statements, stating that an officer threatened him with a harsher sentence if he didn’t cooperate towards Gonzales.

“With the passage of time and significant maturity [Gonzales] is now a significantly different person both mentally and emotionally,” Gripon wrote in his 2022 report. “At the current time, considering all of the evidence provided to me, my evaluation of Mr. Gonzales, and his current mental status, it is my opinion, to a reasonable psychiatric probability, that he does not pose a threat of future danger to society in regard to any predictable future acts of criminal violence.”

Two days earlier than Gonzales’ 2022 execution date, the Texas Courtroom of Felony Appeals granted a keep and instructed the trial courtroom to think about Gonzales’ declare that his loss of life sentence resulted from false knowledgeable testimony. With out conducting a listening to or reviewing extra proof, the courtroom signed verbatim the state’s “findings of fact and conclusions of law” and denied reduction. (This isn’t uncommon: a 2018 report revealed within the Harvard Regulation Assessment discovered that judges adopted prosecutors’ findings of their entirety in 96% of the 191 circumstances the authors reviewed in Harris County, Texas.)

Throughout Gonzales’ 18 years on loss of life row, “He has earnestly devoted himself to self-improvement, contemplation, and prayer, and has grown into a mature, peaceful, kind, loving, and deeply religious adult,” his attorneys wrote in a petition to the U.S. Supreme Courtroom, arguing that Gonzales was ineligible for execution as a result of there was no threat or likelihood of him posing a menace to society. “He acknowledges his responsibility for his crimes and has sought to atone for them and to seek redemption through his actions.”

Gonzales earned the equal of a bachelor’s diploma from a Bible faculty and was one of many first peer coordinators when Texas loss of life row launched “faith-based pods.” In that function, Gonzales supplied religious steerage to others going through execution.

The Supreme Courtroom declined to intervene to halt Gonzales’ execution. Gonzales was the eighth individual executed within the U.S. this yr. On Thursday, Oklahoma plans to execute Richard Norman Rojem Jr.

In an interview with The Marshall Undertaking days earlier than his loss of life, Gonzales addressed the strain between rehabilitating folks solely to execute them.

“I think ultimately the state is afraid to acknowledge the fact that we can be rehabilitated and be a contribution to society from prison — because it goes against how they prosecuted us, how they labeled us in court as menaces to society,” Gonzales mentioned. “I wish they’d be honest and say: ‘We screwed up. People can be rehabilitated.’ But it’s hard to admit your mistakes, especially when politics are involved.”

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