Texas to Execute Ramiro Gonzales Today Despite Appeals Arguing He’s No Longer a Threat

Ballinger News Staff

Texas Set to Execute Ramiro Gonzales Amid Legal Appeals

Ramiro Gonzales is scheduled for execution by lethal injection on Wednesday for a 2001 murder, though his attorneys have appealed to the US Supreme Court, arguing that he should be ineligible for the death penalty under state law because he no longer poses a danger.

Gonzales, 41, was convicted and sentenced to death in 2006 for the sexual assault and murder of 18-year-old Bridget Townsend. His execution would be the first of two in the United States this week, with another scheduled in Oklahoma.

During the penalty phase of Gonzales’ trial, Texas jurors had to determine a “probability” that Gonzales would continue to commit violent crimes, a requirement for imposing the death penalty in the state. His attorneys argue that his behavior over the past 18 years proves he is not dangerous. They cite his commitment to his Christian faith, his ministry to fellow inmates, and his unsuccessful attempts to donate a kidney to a stranger.

Additionally, Gonzales’ attorneys claim that the evidence used to predict his future dangerousness was flawed. An expert witness who diagnosed him with antisocial personality disorder based his testimony on recidivism data that was later found to be incorrect. The expert has since re-evaluated Gonzales and retracted his earlier statements.

Gonzales’ attorneys argue that if he is no longer a threat, he should not be eligible for the death penalty. They contend that state courts have failed to allow a post-conviction review of the jury’s determination, violating his Constitutional rights.

“Ramiro not only has disproven the jury’s prediction – he has never committed a single act or threat of violence since he was sentenced to death in 2006 – but in fact actively contributes to prison society in exceptional ways,” said attorneys Thea Posel and Raoul Schonemann in a statement. “He should not be executed.”

As of Wednesday morning, Gonzales’ fate largely rests with the Supreme Court. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles declined to recommend clemency on Monday with a unanimous 7-0 vote. Without this recommendation, Governor Greg Abbott can only grant Gonzales a one-time 30-day reprieve under state law.

CNN has reached out to the Medina County Criminal District Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case, and members of Townsend’s family for comment.

The Crime and Confession

Gonzales murdered Townsend in January 2001. According to a 2009 Texas appeals court opinion, Gonzales sought drugs from the home of his supplier, Townsend’s boyfriend. When Townsend informed him her boyfriend was not home, Gonzales went to the house, stole money, and kidnapped Townsend. He tied her up and drove her to a location near his family’s ranch, where he raped and fatally shot her.

The case remained unsolved for 18 months until Gonzales, while jailed for another rape, confessed to Townsend’s murder and led authorities to her body.

Gonzales’ execution would be the eighth in the United States this year, with the ninth scheduled for Thursday in Oklahoma. Oklahoma plans to execute Richard Rojem for the 1984 kidnapping, rape, and murder of his 7-year-old stepdaughter, Layla Cummings. The state’s parole board recently voted against recommending clemency for Rojem, who maintains his innocence.

Both Gonzales and Rojem would be the second individuals executed in their respective states in 2024. By this time last year, 13 inmates had been executed in the US, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a non-profit organization that tracks capital punishment and has been critical of its administration.

Also Read


Leave a Comment