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Death row inmate Ramiro Gonzales asks for execution delay so he can donate kidney

HOUSTON — A Texas inmate set to be put to death in less than two weeks has asked for a stay of execution so he can donate a kidney.

Ramiro Gonzales is scheduled to receive a lethal injection on July 13 for fatally shooting 18-year-old Bridget Townsend, a southwest Texas woman whose remains were found nearly two years after she disappeared in 2001.

In a letter sent Wednesday, Gonzalez’s attorneys, Thea Posel and Raoul Schonemann, asked Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to grant a 30-day reprieve so the inmate could be considered a living donor “to someone who urgently needs a kidney transplant.” .”

His lawyers filed a separate request with the Texas Board of Pardons and a 180-day suspended sentence related to the kidney donation.

In their request to Abbott, Gonzalez’s lawyers included a letter from Cantor Michael Zusman, an ordained Jewish clergyman from Maryland who corresponded with Gonzalez.

“There was no doubt in my mind that Ramiro’s desire to be an altruistic kidney donor was not motivated by a last-minute attempt to stop or delay his execution. I will go to my grave believing in my heart that this is something Ramiro wants to do to help mend his soul with his God,” Zoosman wrote.

Gonzales’ lawyers say he is determined to be an “excellent candidate” for donation after being evaluated by the transplant team at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. The evaluation found that Gonzalez has a rare blood type, meaning his donation could benefit someone who may struggle to find a match.

“Almost all that remains is the surgery to remove Ramiro’s kidney. UTMB has confirmed that the procedure could be completed within a month,” Posel and Schonemann wrote to Abbott.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice policies allow inmates to donate organs and tissues. Agency spokeswoman Amanda Hernandez said Gonzales was deemed ineligible after submitting a request to become a donor earlier this year. He did not give a reason, but Gonzalez’s lawyers said in their letter that the agency objected because of the pending execution date.

Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The Texas Board of Pardons is scheduled to vote July 11 on Gonzalez’s request to the agency.

Gonzalez’s lawyers have filed a separate request asking the board to commute his death sentence to a lesser one.

They also asked that his execution not go ahead unless his spiritual advisor is allowed to hold his hand and place another hand over his heart during his execution. A two-day federal trial on that request was scheduled to begin Tuesday in Houston.

Gonzalez’s request to stay his execution for organ donation is rare among US death row inmates, Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said Friday.

In 1995, convicted murderer Steven Shelton in Delaware donated a kidney to his mother.

In 2013, Ronald Phillips’ execution in Ohio was delayed so his request to donate a kidney to his mother could be reconsidered. Phillips’ request was later denied and he was executed in 2017.

“Skeptics will think it’s just an attempt to delay execution. But if it were, I think you’d see a lot of requests,” said Dunham, whose group does not take a position on the death penalty but has criticized the way which the states bear. outside the executions. “The history of executions in the United States shows that people do not offer to donate organs in order to delay an execution that is yet to take place.”

In a report, the United Network for Organ Sharing, a nonprofit organization that operates the nation’s transplant system under contract to the federal government, listed several ethical concerns about donating organs from convicted inmates. They include whether such donations could be linked to inmates receiving preferential treatment, or whether such bodies could be morally compromised because of their ties to the death penalty.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Death row inmate Ramiro Gonzales asks for execution delay so he can donate kidney Source link Death row inmate Ramiro Gonzales asks for execution delay so he can donate kidney

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