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


In 2006, Ramiro Gonzales was sentenced to demise in Texas as punishment for kidnapping, raping and killing Bridget Townsend once they had been each 18 years outdated.

There have been indications that Gonzales didn’t symbolize the “worst of the worst” form of legal that the demise penalty is supposedly reserved for. Like many on demise row, he endured horrific abuse and neglect as a baby. He turned to medicine and alcohol as a teen to manage; he killed Townsend, his drug seller’s girlfriend, whereas attempting to steal medicine. After he was arrested for sexually assaulting a special lady, Gonzales confessed to the homicide. He had turned 18 two months earlier than the killing, making him barely sufficiently old to be legally eligible for a demise sentence.

In Texas, jurors on demise penalty circumstances are instructed to foretell whether or not the defendant is more likely to commit future acts of violence. A psychiatrist, Dr. Edward Gripon, was pivotal in convincing jurors that Gonzales derived pleasure from sexual assault, was unlikely to cease, and was a poor candidate for rehabilitation. Fifteen years later, Gripon visited Gonzales on demise row and reevaluated him. This led Gripon to reverse his opinion, citing a previous reliance on a debunked statistic and a witness assertion that has since been recanted. In his second analysis, Gripon wrote that “it is my opinion, to a reasonable psychiatric probability, that he [Gonzales] does not pose a threat of future danger to society.”

It was the one time that Gripon had ever issued a report altering his opinion in a demise penalty case, the psychiatrist instructed The Marshall Mission in 2022. Regardless of Gripon’s dramatic reversal, Texas plans to execute 41-year-old Gonzales on Wednesday, by deadly injection.

Gonzales has expressed deep regret for his crime. “I know my apologies cannot even begin to bring you peace of mind and healing, but I feel that I should still tell you how sorry I am for all the pain and anguish you have suffered because of my actions,” he wrote in an apology letter to the Townsend household in 2022, which was excerpted in a petition for clemency filed by Gonzales’ legal professionals earlier this month. “I am sorry, deeply sorry, that I took what was so precious to you and I know there’s nothing I can do or say to make it better.”

Gonzales was born in 1982 to a 17-year-old lady who struggled with drug and alcohol habit, in response to the clemency petition. His mom drank and used medicine all through her being pregnant, and, at one level, deliberately overdosed in an unsuccessful effort to terminate the being pregnant. After his beginning, his mom gave him as much as her dad and mom. He didn’t meet his father till he was 19, once they had been each locked up on the county jail.

The rejection from Gonzales’ mom was “ever-present,” in response to the clemency petition, which famous that she went on to marry and have two extra kids whom she raised, regardless of by no means acknowledging Gonzales as her son. His grandparents labored lengthy days, leaving him unsupervised. Gonzales was repeatedly sexually abused, together with by a cousin, beginning on the age of 6, the petition mentioned.

Bandera, the city Gonzales grew up in, was “hell on earth,” a cousin, recognized solely as Jessica, mentioned in a video submitted in help of Gonzales’ clemency utility.

“There was a lot of sexual abuse in the family,” Jessica mentioned. “That was something that, till this day, is not really talked about. And it was not talked about, it was never stopped, because that abuse continued on to the next generation, which was Ramiro and me.”

As a baby, Ramiro Gonzales skilled abandonment and sexual abuse.

Texas Defender Service/Elisabetta Diorio

The primary time that Gonzales discovered care and affection from a member of the family was throughout elementary college, when his uncle married a girl named Loretta. She “hugged him, praised him, and showed him the love and affection he craved,” in response to the clemency petition. When Gonzales was 15, Loretta was killed in a automotive crash with a drunk driver. Devastated, Gonzales turned to cocaine and methamphetamine to self-medicate. He dropped out of faculty and commenced stealing and forging checks to pay for medicine.

Shortly after his 18th birthday, Gonzales tried to rob his seller’s residence. Townsend was inside, and when she tried to name her boyfriend, Gonzales assaulted and killed her.

Gripon testified at trial that recidivism charges amongst individuals who commit intercourse crimes are as excessive as 80% — a statistic that was broadly used on the time to justify excessive punishments. Years later, when a authorized scholar tried to determine the supply of the 80% declare, he discovered that it got here from an unsubstantiated assertion in a 1986 Psychology Right now article. Latest peer-reviewed research have discovered recidivism charges under 20% after 25 years and that these charges are “substantially lower” amongst youthful offenders, like Gonzales, Gripon famous in his second analysis.

In courtroom, Gripon had additionally relied on written statements signed by Gonzales’ cellmate, Frederick Ozuna. The statements described Gonzales confessing to returning to the crime scene three or 4 occasions to have “sex with the body” and saying that “he would do it again” and “enjoyed it.”

At trial, Ozuna tried to invoke his proper to silence after which tried to recant his statements. However the prosecutor continued to press, till Ozuna agreed to reply affirmatively to a collection of main questions in regards to the statements. Ozuna later absolutely recanted in a sworn declaration, describing how an officer threatened him with a harsher sentence if he didn’t assist vilify Gonzales. “Ramiro never said those things to me,” Ozuna wrote within the declaration, referring to the claims about assaulting the sufferer’s useless physique.

After Gonzales was convicted, he was appointed a lawyer named Terry McDonald to symbolize him in state habeas proceedings, an opportunity to current proof of constitutional points at trial. McDonald by no means met with Gonzales, requested funding for consultants, interviewed members of the family and different witnesses, or performed evaluations of Gonzales, in response to Gonzales’ present legal professionals. Finally, McDonald filed a nine-page habeas petition (such paperwork are sometimes lots of of pages lengthy), which was dismissed by the courtroom as “frivolous.”

Gonzales was beforehand set to be executed in 2022. Weeks earlier than the scheduled killing, Gripon supplied Gonzales’ appellate legal professionals with his reevaluation report, admitting to counting on debunked info at trial and concluding that Gonzales didn’t pose a future hazard. Two days earlier than the execution, the Texas Court docket of Prison Appeals granted a keep and directed the trial courtroom to think about Gonzales’ declare that his demise sentence resulted from false professional testimony.

With out conducting a listening to or reviewing any extra proof, the trial courtroom signed verbatim the state’s “findings of fact and conclusions of law,” which beneficial denying Gonzales reduction. (That is widespread follow: A 2018 report printed within the Houston Legislation Overview discovered that judges adopted prosecutors’ findings of their entirety in 96% of 191 circumstances that the authors reviewed in Texas’ Harris County.) The Court docket of Prison Appeals adopted the trial courtroom’s advice, and Gonzales was given one other execution date.

Gonzales became a devout Christian while incarcerated.
Gonzales turned a religious Christian whereas incarcerated.

Texas Defender Service/Elisabetta Diorio

Whereas awaiting trial, Gonzales had turn into a religious Christian.

“He said, ‘I can’t change the past, but I hope I can prove myself in the future,’” mentioned Clinton Younger, who was incarcerated with Gonzales on Texas demise row earlier than Younger’s conviction was overturned as a consequence of a shocking revelation that the prosecutor on his case was additionally on the payroll of the decide. “He walked the walk.”

In 2021, Gonzales tried to donate a kidney, an effort blocked by the Texas Division of Prison Justice, which mentioned the “uncertain timeline” of the donation may intrude along with his execution. “How can I give back life? This is probably one of the closest things to doing that,” Gonzales instructed The Marshall Mission in 2022.

Gonzales earned the equal of a bachelor’s diploma from a Bible school and wrote sermons for the jail’s radio station. When the jail launched “faith-based pods” in 2021, Gonzales turned one of many program’s first peer coordinators. In an interview recorded for his clemency video, Gonzales described his work ministering to different individuals on “death watch,” who had been additionally staring down an execution date.

“The first thing we do to minister to them is make sure they got clothing, make sure they got food,” Gonzales mentioned. “And then God comes next, in the sense where it’s like: ‘Hey man, I just want you to know, I’m Christian. I have a date. If you have doubts or if there’s any emotional struggles right now because you’re on death watch, we can talk about it. Whether you have a date or not, it doesn’t matter. You still have a life to live.’”

Gonzales didn’t simply assist Christians, mentioned Cantor Michael Zoosman, a co-founder of the group, L’chaim! Jews In opposition to The Dying Penalty.

“I remember Jedidiah Murphy, who was executed last year, talking about how Ramiro had provided a balm of spiritual support for him,” Zoosman mentioned within the clemency video. “Even if he [Gonzales] 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 that he has with them.”

Gonzales closes all of his letters with the phrases “faith,” “hope” and “love,” a reference to the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, which concludes, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

“I’m on death row,” Gonzales mentioned within the clemency video. “But I still have faith, I still have hope, and I can still love everybody around me.”

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