AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Tuesday, local faith leaders and activists against the death penalty rallied at the Texas State Capitol to protest the pending execution of John Henry Ramirez.
The Evangelical group Vote Common Good hosted the rally with Death Penalty Action to deliver 15,000 petition signatures to Gov. Greg Abbott urging him to halt the execution.
“We think the state should not be killing its own citizens or anyone,” said Doug Pagitt, the Executive Director of Vote Common Good. “We don’t think anyone is helped by killing people who kill people.”
Ramirez was sentenced to death in 2008 for the fatal stabbing Pablo Castro, a 45-year-old convenience store clerk from Corpus Christi. Ramirez stabbed Castro 29 times and robbed him of $1.25.
The execution was delayed in 2020, when Ramirez challenged state rules that would have forced his pastor to remain silent and apart from him as he is put to death.
In May, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in Ramirez’s favor. States cannot restrict the use of audible prayer and touch during execution thanks to a federal law protecting the religious freedom of inmates.
Despite previous delays, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously voted to deny clemency to Ramirez on Monday.
“We are not here because we are full of hope. We are here because we are out of hope,” Pagitt said.
If a stay of execution is not granted, Pagitt plans to travel to Huntsville to hold a vigil outside of the execution unit on Wednesday.
The rally is just one stop in VCG’s tour around Texas to mobilize religious voters for the upcoming November election.
“We are not calling on the governor to act like a Christian, we are calling on him to act like a governor who cares about the well-being of the people of this country,” Pagitt said.