Federal judge grants stay of execution to Ruben Gutierrez

Update: The Texas Attorney General has appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to overturn the stay. Check back for new developments.

Earlier today, a federal district court judge stayed the execution of Ruben Gutierrez, which is scheduled for next Tuesday, June 16. Gutierrez seeks testing of DNA evidence collected at the crime scene; he also is challenging the denial of a chaplain to accompany him in the execution chamber. In her order, Judge Tagle states,“The Court concludes that Gutierrez has made a showing of likelihood of success on the merits of at least one of his DNA or execution-chamber claims.”

Statement from Shawn Nolan, one of Mr. Gutierrez’s attorneys

“As today’s order reflects, Ruben Gutierrez’s case contains many troubling elements and requires careful court review before any execution can proceed.  He has always maintained that he did not commit this crime and has repeatedly requested DNA testing to prove that fact.  It is amazing that the state of Texas has stated that it will test all prison inmates for the COVID-19 virus, yet refuses to agree to simply test the available evidence for DNA to prove whether or not Mr. Gutierrez was responsible for this crime. In a case with no physical or forensic evidence against him, to execute Mr. Gutierrez without conducting DNA testing would be the ultimate violation of his civil rights. 

Additionally, the state is refusing to allow Mr. Gutierrez to have a Christian chaplain accompany him into the execution chamber, in violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. TDCJ cannot just pick and choose which of its own rules and which constitutional rights apply to a prisoner and it should not attempt to conduct an execution under these circumstances.” 

– Shawn Nolan, Attorney for Ruben Gutierrez; Chief, Capital Habeas Unit, Federal Defender for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
-June 9, 2020

Here’s coverage from KVEO-TV (NBC-affiliate, Brownsville): https://www.valleycentral.com/news/stay-of-execution-granted-for-inmate-convicted-in-murder-of-brownsville-woman/