Pastor Prays for and Touches Texas Inmate During Execution

John Henry Ramirez | Image by Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP, File

A death row inmate from Huntsville, Texas, who challenged the state’s prison rules in order to have his pastor touch him and pray aloud for him during his execution, was executed on Wednesday. John Henry Ramirez, 38, was executed on October 5 via lethal injection for the 2004 murder of Pablo Castro, AP News reported.

The Supreme Court ruled in March to honor Ramirez’s wish to have his pastor put a hand on him and pray during his execution. Chief Justice John Roberts shared at the time that Ramirez’s wish could be granted without delaying the execution, according to AP News

In an 8-1 opinion, Roberts said, “[I]t is possible to accommodate Ramirez’s sincere religious beliefs without delaying or impeding his execution.”

It was argued an inmate being touched could interfere with the injection being carried through the veins, but Roberts spoke against those concerns. He said inmates could be touched “on a part of the body away from IV lines, such as a prisoner’s lower leg.”

In a strange twist to the story, following the Supreme Court decision, in April, a district attorney had attempted to stop Ramirez’s execution. Claiming the execution had been requested by mistake, Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez asked a judge to withdraw the death warrant and delay the execution. Gonzalez considers the death penalty to be “unethical.”

Prosecutors stated that Ramirez had stolen $1.25 from Castro, 46, before stabbing him 29 times. Ramirez fled to Mexico before being arrested three and a half years later. 

Ramirez was joined by his spiritual advisor Dana Moore in the execution chamber. Moore had his right hand on Ramirez’s chest during the execution and provided a short prayer. “Look upon John with your grace. Grant him peace. Grant all of us peace,” Moore prayed. 

Five of Castro’s relatives, including four of his children, were present to watch through the window. Ramirez addressed Castro’s relatives following the prayer from Moore. 

“I have regret and remorse. This is such a heinous act. I hope this finds you comfort. If this helps you, then I am glad. I hope in some shape or form this helps you find closure,” he said. 

Ramirez also expressed love for those in his life, his son, wife, and friends. 

He ended by saying, “Just know that I fought a good fight, and I am ready to go.”

Seth Kretzer, Ramirez’s attorney, told AP News that the inmate had exhausted any possible appeals. He added that Ramirez’s case had to do with religious freedoms for all, citing that even Nazi war criminals would be provided ministers before being executed. 

“That was not a reflection on some favor we were doing for the Nazis,” Kretzer told AP News. “Providing religious administration at the time of death is a reflection of the relative moral strength of the captors.”

Mark Skurka, the lead prosecutor from Ramirez’s 2008 trial, felt it was unfair that the inmate was allowed to have someone praying over him. 

He told AP News, “It has been a long time coming, but Pablo Castro will probably finally get the justice that his family has sought for so long, despite the legal delays.”

Ramirez was the third Texas inmate executed this year, and the 11th executed in all of the United States. There are two more death row executions set for Texas for this year, both scheduled for November.            

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  1. Pap

    I guess he feels that will excuse him from God’s judgement for stabbing a man 29 times. His “severe religious beliefs”? I guess those beliefs took a back seat when he murdered someone for $1.29. He could repent without a pastor present. Repentance is the more important factor. There is a price to pay for our actions. However, may God have mercy on his soul.

    • Stephanie

      Just so you know there was a man named Saul of Tarsus who was a murderer of Christians in the Bible who’s name coincidentally meant destroyer.
      He met the God who saved and forgave and he himself became a Christian
      The Lord used him to win souls so they to could become Christians
      The Lord did tell him from the beginning tht he would suffer for his names sake.
      Meaning there was and is forgiveness for sins
      But also consequences with mercy when repentance is added to a persons life.
      If no repentance, then the full weight of consequences will fall on tht person or persons.
      So tht you understand God is a just God
      And his ways and thoughts are not like our own.
      One isn’t unforgivable whom we say,
      One is unforgivable tht he says.
      I pray tht you come to know the beauty of loving God who knows and understands our human condition and judges according to his word. Not the hate, bitterness and anger of men.
      God bless you is my prayer 🙏

      • Pap

        My comment was because it was never mentioned that he repented. Someone can pray over you all day long, but the individual must ask for forgiveness. Jesus is the Savior, not the pastor. And I have my suspicions that this may have been a drama played out in front of the grieving family. That pastor could have spent an hour praying with him in his cell prior to the execution. The man he brutally murdered didn’t have the luxury of a pastor when he died. This was about more than $1.29. He obviously killed with hate in his heart. But God knows his heart, so best leave it with Him. Our laws against murder have been filled. The truth will come out on judgement day.

      • Jim

        Nice story but………justice has been served.

      • Venetra Reese


      • Darby

        Beautifully spoken !!

    • Jericho

      Why did Jesus Christ die if not to be forgiven,there’s only one unforgivable sin right? We will be judged how we judge I’m sure the two are together with Jesus🙏

      • Margie


  2. Erika

    No one has a right to take anyone’s life not u ,not him ,not I only god can why couldn’t he just live and die of old age the Bible says don’t pay evil for evil only god can unless it’s in an accident

  3. Carlos

    If you ask me only God can judge us I don’t believe in the death penalty I don’t believe the state is God and they could judge us and send us to death only the Lord Jesus Christ can do that please Lord pray over his soul

  4. Rosa

    If asked and truly mean it, God will forgive. He is Love and loves all his children.


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