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A jury found Ramirez guilty of capital murder in December 2008 and sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence in March 2011.
He was also found guilty of evading arrest and two counts of aggravated robbery.
In his appeals, Ramirez's lawyers argued that there was insufficient evidence to prove that he robbed Castro or directed or aided Rodriguez in robbing him. The Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that while the evidence that Ramirez went through Castro's pockets or ordered Rodriguez to go through his pockets could be considered inconclusive, his responsibility for Castro's robbery was established by Chavez's testimony that the group was looking for people to rob, by the fact that his stabbing of Castro aided Rodriguez in robbing him, and by the subsequent robbery and attempted robbery he committed within minutes of Castro's murder.
Angela Cruz Rodriguez pleaded guilty to murder and two counts of aggravated robbery. She received two life sentences and a 20-year sentence. Christina Chavez was also charged with capital murder. She pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Both women remain in custody as of this writing.
After the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed his death sentence in 2011, Ramirez chose to waive his remaining appeals. In September 2011, however, he changed his mind, stating that he found out he had a half-sister, and by continuing his appeals, he would have time to get to know her.
A Corpus Christi TV reporter who interviewed Ramirez from death row in 2008 described him as "cocky" and "combative." The same reporter interviewed him again in January 2017, two weeks prior to his first scheduled execution date. The reported noted that he had become a more thoughtful and remorseful person.
"I'm not going to ask them to forgive me, because ... I don't know how I would react if somebody killed a close family member," Ramirez said. "I'm not going to ask them to forgive me; I just want them to know I'm sorry."
"I was so high on all those drugs and on alcohol, and ... it was so, so quick, man. And I knew, I knew that I went too far when I saw him fall down bleeding," Ramirez told another reporter.
Ramirez said he told his 10-year-old son, "Don't be nothing like me, man."
Ramirez received a stay from his first execution date so he could get a new attorney. He had a second scheduled date in September 2020, which was withdrawn because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The state's third attempt to execute him, in September 2021, was stopped by the U.S. Supreme Court three hours after it was supposed to have taken place on the basis that prison officials denied his request to have his pastor place his hands on him during the execution.
The state of Texas had a long tradition of allowing a prison chaplain into the execution chamber to comfort the prisoner in his or her final moments. Often, this included the chaplain standing at the foot of the gurney and placing his hand on the condemned person's lower leg. This tradition ceased in 2019 after the state was unable to provide a Buddhist chaplain for a prisoner who requested one. The Supreme Court ruled that Texas either had to provide chaplains for all religions or none, and the state chose the latter option. It subsequently modified its policy to allow ministers who were not employed by the prison into the death chamber during executions, but they were not allowed to touch the prisoner, pray aloud, or bring a Bible into the room. In March 2022, the Supreme Court ruled that this policy violated Ramirez's rights. The state then modified its policy again to conform to the Court's latest ruling.
With the state once again ready to execute Ramirez, an employee in the Nueces County District Attorney's office filed a request for a new execution date, and a judge signed Ramirez's death warrant. But in April, Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez, who was elected in 2016, asked the judge to withdraw Ramirez's death warrant, saying he considers the death penalty to be "unethical." All four of Castro's children then filed a motion asking that the warrant remain in place. "I want my father to finally have his justice as well as the peace to finally move on with my life and let this nightmare be over," Fernando Castro, one of his sons, wrote. A judge decided in June to deny Gonzalez's request. Gonzalez has pledged not to seek the death penalty again.
Ramirez began his last statement by addressing Castro's four children, who watched from a viewing room. Dana Moore, the lead pastor at Second Baptist Church in Corpus Christi, stood beside him.
"I just want to say to the family of Pablo Castro, I appreciate everything that y'all did to try and communicate with me through the victim's advocacy program," he said. "I tried to reply back, but there is nothing that I could have said or done that would have helped you. I have regret and remorse, this is such a heinous act."
"I hope this finds you comfort," he continued. If this helps you, then I am glad. I hope in some shape for form, this helps you find closure. To my wife, my friends, my son, grasshopper, Dana, and homies, I love y'all. Just know that I fought a good fight, and I am ready to go. I am ready, warden." The lethal injection was then started. He was pronounced dead at 6:41 p.m.
By David Carson. Posted on 6 October 2022.
Sources: Texas Department of Criminal Justice, court documents, public records, Austin Chronicle, CBS News, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, KIII-TV, KRIS-TV, Texas Tribune.