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Federal judge stays Gutierrez execution set for next week

1 month 4 weeks 12 hours ago Tuesday, June 09 2020 Jun 9, 2020 June 09, 2020 1:37 PM June 09, 2020 in News - AP Texas Headlines

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A federal judge on Tuesday stayed the execution set for next week of a man condemned for the fatal stabbing more than 20 years ago of an 85-year-old woman.

Ruben Gutierrez, 43, was to die next Tuesday for the 1998 killing of Escolastica Harrison at her Brownsville home. Prosecutors said the killing was part of an attempt to steal more than $600,000 the woman had hidden in her home

His attorneys, however, have long sought DNA testing of evidence they say could save him and the presence of a Christian chaplain in the execution chamber. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice, by policy, prohibits all religious or spiritual advisors from entering the state death chamber for an execution.

U.S. District Judge Hilda Tagle of Brownsville concurred Tuesday. In a three-page opinion, Tagle “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.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals had granted Gutierrez a stay last October after his attorneys pointed out a flaw in his original death warrant.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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