CNA Staff, Jun 17, 2020 / 09:04 am
The Supreme Court stayed the execution of a man in Texas after the state's Department of Corrections refused to allow a Catholic priest to be with him in the final moments of his life.
"The District Court should promptly determine, based on whatever evidence the parties provide, whether serious security problems would result if a prisoner facing execution is permitted to choose the spiritual adviser the prisoner wishes to have in his immediate presence during the execution," said the Supreme Court in its statement issuing the stay of execution on June 16.
Ruben Gutierrez, a Catholic, had requested that the Catholic chaplain at the prison join him in the execution chamber at his death. This request was denied, due to a Texas policy instituted last year that prohibits chaplains in the execution chamber.
Gutierrez was scheduled to die on Tuesday evening, and his execution was stayed approximately one hour before it was set to begin. On June 9, the Federal District Court in Brownsville, Texas, had initially stayed the execution due to the chaplain issue.