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A jury found Ramos guilty of capital murder in March 1993 and sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (TCCA) affirmed his conviction and sentence in June 1996.
In February 2003, after the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court had both declined to hear Ramos's case, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Netherlands ruled that the United States had violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations in the case of 51 Mexican nationals who were on death row, including Ramos, by failing to notify the Mexican consulate of their arrests and not giving the consulate the opportunity to communicate with them. In response, President George W. Bush issued a memorandum directing state courts to review the affected cases. The TCCA, however, declined to re-open Ramos's case, citing a ruling it had made in one of the other affected cases that neither the ICJ's ruling nor the president's memorandum constituted binding U.S. law. In March 2008, the Supreme Court upheld the TCCA's position.
Despite the Supreme Court's ruling, the Fifth Circuit court in 2009 granted Ramos a stay of execution and allowed him to file a federal appeal challenging his conviction on the consular rights issue. After Ramos won this procedural victory, however, the U.S. district court hearing his claim denied it on the merits.
The courts at all levels consistently dismissed or ruled against Ramos's claims of mental illness and mental retardation. Nevertheless, reporters for the Houston Chronicle, parroting the claims in Ramos's lawyers' filings, described him as "mentally ill" in their news articles.
The day before Ramos's execution, the United Nations released a statement written by two human rights experts calling for it to be halted because of the consular rights violation. "Any death sentence carried out in contravention of a Government's international obligations amounts to an arbitrary execution," the statement read. "We call for his death sentence to be annulled and for Mr. Ramos Moreno to be re-tried in compliance with due process and international fair trial standards."
The Supreme Court denied a last-ditch plea from Ramos's lawyer for a stay of execution shortly before 9 p.m.
No witnesses attended Ramos's execution either on his behalf or for his victims. The only people who witnessed it were media representatives and prison employees.
"I am very thankful for all the hard work the Mexican consulate put in a fight over my death sentence, if there was a reason or not," Ramos said in his last statement. "I am thankful for the humane treatment that I was given here at the two prisons that I was at. I am getting my gold watch that it took the governor thirty years to forge. Thank you God. Lord, send me a chariot. I'm ready." The lethal injection was then started. He was pronounced dead at 9:36 p.m.
By David Carson. Posted on 15 November 2018.
Sources: Texas Department of Criminal Justice, court documents, Brownsville Herald, Texas Tribune.