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A jury found Ruiz guilty of capital murder in July 2008 and sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed his conviction and sentence in March 2011. All of his subsequent appeals in state and federal court were denied.
On 10 January, Robert Fratta was put to death in Huntsville after appellate courts rejected his attorney's claims that the dose of pentobarbital the Texas Department of Criminal Justice planned to use to execute him had passed its so-called "expiration date," and would therefore cause him to experience unnecessary pain, in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Ruiz and another prisoner who had scheduled execution dates were also parties to those rejected lawsuits. After Fratta's execution, the Texas Tribune discovered that the TDCJ had received eight new doses of pentobarbital on 5 January. A TDCJ spokesperson confirmed to a Tribune reporter that one of the new doses was used to execute Fratta.
Ruiz's final appeals alleged that the jurors who convicted and sentenced him to death were racist against Hispanics. They did not raise the moot point of expired TDCJ drugs. Nevertheless, most news stories on Ruiz's upcoming execution claimed that TDCJ was using expired drugs to execute prisoners. For example, an Austin Chronicle article dated 27 January and categorized, "News," stated, "Wesley Ruiz likely to be killed with painful drug next week" in its headline. The story mentioned Fratta's execution, and continued, "Now, the state is planning to use the expired drugs again to execute Wesley Ruiz on Feb. 1."
"Texas plans to execute Wesley Ruiz despite the ongoing controversy surrounding the state's use of drugs long past their original expiration dates to kill prisoners," wrote the Texas Tribune. Similar headlines and stories were used by UPI, NBC, MSN, and a plethora of local and special-interest news sites.
The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Ruiz's claim of biased jurors as meritless.
Ruiz was accompanied in the death chamber by his spiritual advisor. His father, two brothers, and two friends watched from an observation room. Nix's mother, sister, two nieces, and a former coworker watched from another room.
"I would like to apologize to the Nix family for taking Mark away from you," Ruiz said in his last statement, without ever looking in the family's direction. "I hope this brings you closure. I want to say to all my family and friends around the world, thank you for supporting me. To my kids, stand tall and continue to make me proud. Don't worry about me. I'm ready to fly. All right, warden, I'm ready to ride." The lethal injection was then started. He was pronounced dead at 6:41 p.m.
By David Carson. Posted on 2 February 2023.
Sources: Texas Department of Criminal Justice, court documents, Associated Press, Austin Chronicle Huntsville Item, Texas Tribune.