The State of Texas executed Rolando Ruiz around 11:00 PM last night. The U.S. Supreme Court delayed the execution by more than four hours as it considered three final appeals. Ultimately, the Justices rejected those appeals with Justice Stephen Breyer dissenting. Justice Breyer’s dissent focused on Ruiz’s Lackey claim, arguing that his execution and more than 20 years of solitary confinement qualify as cruel and unusual punishment. Chris Geidner of BuzzFeed News reports:
Mr. Ruiz argues that his execution ‘violates the Eighth Amendment’ because it ‘follow[s] lengthy [death row] incarceration in traumatic conditions,’ principally his ‘permanent solitary confinement,’ Breyer wrote. I believe his claim is a strong one, and we should consider it.
Ruiz was put to death for the 1992 murder of Theresa Rodriguez in San Antonio. He was hired to kill Rodriguez in a life insurance scheme by her husband, Michael Rodriguez, who received a life sentence for his role in the murder. Mr. Rodriguez later was sentenced to death and executed in 2008 for his part in another crime.
In his final statement, Ruiz expressed remorse for his crime. Jolie McCullough of the Texas Tribune reports:
Words cannot begin to express how sorry I am and the hurt that I have caused you and your family. To my family, thank you for all your love and support. I am at peace. Jesus Christ is Lord. I love you all.
This was the third execution to take place in Texas this year and the fifth nationwide. Bexar County accounts for 43 executions, the third highest number in the state behind Harris and Dallas Counties.
There are six executions scheduled in Texas through July; this includes another individual who was convicted in Bexar County.