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Death row inmate sues in effort to have pastor lay hands on him during his execution

Texas Death Chamber death row
Posted at 11:45 AM, Aug 31, 2021

A Texas death row inmate has filed a lawsuit in the hopes that officials will allow a pastor to lay hands upon him as he's administered a lethal injection on Sept. 8.

According to CBS News, John Henry Ramirez, 37, filed the lawsuit on Aug. 10, asking a federal judge to allow his pastor to be present in the death chamber during his execution so he can lay hands upon him at the moment he dies.

The lawsuit cites a 2019 Supreme Court order that stayed an execution unless the inmate's spiritual advisor be allowed to be with him in the death chamber. That inmate, who was also set to be executed in Texas, has not received a new execution date.

According to The New York Times, the suit argues that the laying of hands would occur "when most Christians believe they will either ascend to heaven or descend to hell — in other words, when religious instruction and practice is most needed."

Ramirez said his pastor, Dana Moore, had been ministering to him for about five years. Moore is the pastor of Second Baptist Church in Corpus Christi and has traveled 300 miles to the prison in Livingston, Texas — where Ramirez is being held — to speak with inmates there for over a decade.

"It would just be comforting," Ramirez told the Times.

According to the Times, Ramirez and Moore have never touched. When Moore visits Ramirez for prayer, they press their palms up against the plexiglass that separates them.

Ramirez was convicted of the 2004 stabbing death of Pablo Castro, a convenience store clerk in Corpus Christi. Ramirez stabbed Castro 29 times in a robbery attempt that netted him just $1.25.

Ramirez has already had two stays of execution. CBS News reports that his execution was delayed in 2017 so he could get a new attorney and delayed again in September due to the pandemic.