Pablo Castro, father of 9 and convenience-store employee of 14 years in Corpus Christi, Texas, was crushed and stabbed to demise for $1.25 on the night time of July 14, 2004. His killer was John Henry Ramirez, a 20-year-old ex-Marine who had begun utilizing medication at 12 and was, by the point he occurred to identify Castro taking out the rubbish that night time, on the tail finish of a multiday alcohol, Xanax, and cocaine binge that he was combating desperately to lengthen.
After he murdered Castro, Ramirez fled to Mexico, the place he evaded the legislation for just a few years till brokers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation captured him close to Brownsville, Texas, alongside the U.S. border. His two feminine accomplices, who had assisted Ramirez in two different double robberies the identical night Ramirez murdered Castro, have been every arrested the night time of the killing and sentenced to prolonged jail phrases for his or her roles within the crime spree. The state sought the demise penalty in Ramirez’s case, and thus started a years-long strategy of Ramirez countering Texas’s efforts to finish his life whereas expressing severe doubts as as to whether he deserved to stay in any respect. At his 2008 trial, for example, after his personal father took the stand in his protection, Ramirez requested that his attorneys withdraw all further mitigation witnesses, additional requesting that they learn the jury the next verse from Psalm 51:3: “For I acknowledge my transgressions and my sin is ever earlier than me.” The jury sentenced him to demise unanimously.
Within the years that adopted, Ramirez’s sin was certainly ever earlier than him, recapitulated in court docket papers and media flares when his authorized appeals, at instances, succeeded. What he had performed had completely altered a variety of lives, his included, and the character of his sentence painted the stability of his years in shades of guilt and disgrace. If redemption have been out there to a person so soundly convicted of his crime, it must happen throughout the confines of his remaining days and with out the promise of a lot ameliorative impact upon his circumstances. He could be pressured, in different phrases, to face his sins for trustworthy causes or to evade them till the bitter finish—a dilemma wherein few of us would display a lot ethical braveness, and one we spend most of our lives suspending in any case. For Ramirez, there was nowhere to cover.
In 2011, information studies present, Ramirez briefly thought of waiving his appeals and hastening his execution. He wrote a letter to Decide Bobby Galvan of Texas’s Ninety-Fourth District Court docket insisting that his remaining authorized efforts be suspended in order that “justice shall be served for the household and associates of Pablo Castro in a speedy trend … they’ve waited lengthy sufficient!” In conversations with a jail psychologist, Ramirez stated that he would have been prepared to hold on along with his appeals if he had “help,” or “[someone] to point out me you care,” however that he had neither and, regardless of his religion in God, he didn’t anticipate any. “I discovered God a very long time in the past however I’m not gonna flip holy curler since I ruined my life,” he instructed the psychologist. “God ain’t gonna save me.”
However earlier than Ramirez may seem for a listening to in Galvan’s court docket, he realized of a paternal half sister with whom he struck up a relationship, as if the Lord in all his vengeance couldn’t resist such a nakedly determined plea for love. Ramirez reconsidered his need to finish what he had described as his “trash life.” His appeals continued till 2017, when his first execution date arrived—“I wouldn’t wish to ask them to forgive me,” Ramirez stated of Castro’s household on the time. “I simply wish to ask them to know that I am sorry”—and handed, because of a keep from a federal district court docket.
As soon as that litigation was exhausted, Texas set a brand new execution date for Ramirez, in September 2020. However Ramirez sued in August of that 12 months, arguing that the state’s ban on clergy apart from employees chaplains employed by the Texas Division of Legal Justice within the execution chamber violated his spiritual rights. Particularly, he requested that Pastor Dana Moore of Corpus Christi’s Second Baptist Church, whom Ramirez had met via the pastor’s jail ministry in 2017, be permitted to be within the room with him on the time of his demise. After some grudging back-and-forth and different delays, the state offered for vetted exterior clergy to hitch prisoners throughout their execution. However Ramirez, who had discovered himself remodeled by Moore’s ministry, gently amended his grievance: He wished Moore to have the ability to pray aloud, whereas touching him.
That turned out to be greater than Texas may countenance, and Ramirez’s urgent of the matter finally put his case earlier than the Supreme Court docket of america—on the eve of one other scheduled execution date, this time in September 2021. Castro’s household was distraught, incensed. “Actually, if he desires a priest to bless him earlier than he is despatched off, by all means, go forward. That does not have an effect on me one bit. What impacts me is why this course of continues to get delayed time and time once more,” Aaron Castro, considered one of Pablo’s sons, instructed native media after the Court docket issued a last-minute keep. “You all the time assume that is going to be the 12 months, that is the time, there gained’t be one other keep of execution, there gained’t be one other delay. He’s a disgusting human being … Cease crying, cease attempting to get across the scenario. There’s no manner out. You must be executed.”
The state of Texas, ineluctable and regular, caught up with Ramirez roughly a 12 months therefore, on Wednesday, October 5. Although not with out additional battle: In April of this 12 months, Nueces County District Legal professional Mark Gonzalez filed a movement to withdraw a demise warrant one other lawyer in his workplace had requested for Ramirez regardless of the workplace’s coverage in opposition to such requests, and although Texas privileges the function of native district attorneys in scheduling executions for prisoners, nobody appeared particularly shocked when the state’s courts rebuffed Gonzalez’s efforts to save lots of the person. Publicly, it was a shock and an outrage that Texas had rejected a unified try on behalf of the prosecution and protection to withdraw the warrant; privately, there was little or no chance it was going to prove every other manner. And so rather less than two weeks in the past, when the state of Texas introduced Ramirez into the execution chamber, Moore was there, ready to ship the spiritual rights, and rites, Ramirez had gained earlier than the courts.
Ramirez, who lived in sure respects a tough and unforgiving life, took a tough and unforgiving view of himself. He by no means attested to a dramatic conversion on the within, only a religious transformation that put him again within the thoughts of following Christ. “There are lots of people that consider there’s a God and simply don’t stay proper,” Ramirez instructed a reporter, with respect to his previous, in 2021. “I simply wasn’t obeying, I wasn’t attempting to be good.” As soon as Ramirez’s religion reawakened, he started to depend on Moore’s religious steerage as his inevitable execution date drew nearer and nearer.
I spoke with Moore final week, after the execution. He sounded drained. He stated Ramirez by no means actually forgave himself for Castro’s homicide. “I might say about three or 4 months in the past, John was even toying with the thought of not having me in there or anyone on his aspect, and simply let that be all about Pablo Castro’s household,” Moore instructed me. “John was genuinely remorseful. It was nearly to the purpose the place it was like he did not need us in there due to penance, and simply let it’s about their household and simply no matter they may must get peace of their lives,” Moore added.
Nonetheless, Ramirez mirrored in his final moments on his lack of ability to ship consolation or restitution to Castro’s household in every other manner. “I simply wish to say to the household of Pablo Castro, I respect all the pieces that y’all did to try to talk with me via the sufferer’s advocacy program,” he provided throughout his remaining phrases. “I attempted to answer again, however there’s nothing that I may have stated or performed that will have helped you.”
It was as if he have been morally inarticulate, however not insensate: Ramirez may hear Castro’s household, however couldn’t discover the appropriate phrases for them; may really feel the love of God, however couldn’t all the time replicate it, both in his dealings with others or in his angle towards himself.
Moore laid his hand on Ramirez’s chest and “prayed [to God] for John to really feel his presence, for John to really feel his peace and for everyone there to really feel his peace,” Moore instructed me, “as a result of, John first, but it surely’s nonetheless, everyone else there. It’s impacting their lives, and affecting them.” John couldn’t a lot react to his prayer, Moore stated, which concluded with Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd.” Nor did the others within the execution chamber. Moore stood ready by Ramirez’s aspect, along with his hand resting on him, as the person laid earlier than him and died. “I used to be simply praying for God’s presence to be with John as he took him house, as he was going to be with Jesus. Simply carry that consolation.”
Aaron Castro launched a assertion after Ramirez’s demise. He quoted Micah 7:18—“Who’s a God such as you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You don’t keep offended eternally however delight to point out mercy”—and hailed a brand new period of therapeutic for his household: “Peace and Love and justice for Pablo G. Castro could his title not be forgotten, and will God have mercy in J.H.R. for it’s not as much as us. He’s receiving his true judgment with our Lord and Savior. The Alpha and Omega, the start and finish. A Life taken away is to not be celebrated however closure can undoubtedly happen.”
Micah asks a rational query: What ought to we make of this peculiar God of this peculiar religion, who rushes to forgive offenses and relieve money owed, even when it means sending his emissaries out to the place the graver inventory of sins are saved, in prisons and penal establishments, even execution chambers? I requested Moore how God noticed Ramirez.
“God sees John as he created him,” Moore stated, not because the sum of all of the issues he had performed. The view of Ramirez from God’s eyes, or from Moore’s, should appear very unusual relative to the evaluation the state of Texas manufactured from the person on the day he was sentenced, and held till the night time he died. Could all our enemies be judged by Texas, and we ourselves by God or Dana Moore.