Supreme Court declines to stop Texas execution of man claiming anti-Hispanic bias in sentencing
The Supreme Court rejected a Texas death-row inmate’s request to pause his execution scheduled for later Wednesday over claims that some of his jurors relied on “overtly racist” stereotypes.
Wesley Ruiz, 43, was sentenced to death for killing a Dallas police officer. Ruiz this week asked the justices to pause his lethal injection after lower courts rejected his latest appeal.
The justices in a brief, unsigned order declined his request, paving the way for his execution later in the day.
Ruiz cited affidavits that two of his jurors signed in August and asserted they acted on “overtly racist” and “blatant anti-Hispanic stereotypes” in appraising Ruiz’s future dangerousness and sentencing him to death.
“Because the jurors viewed Mr. Ruiz as a ‘subhuman’ and expressed hostility to the very presence of Hispanics in their community, Mr. Ruiz was deprived of the basic Sixth Amendment guarantee that the body making the solemn life-or-death decision be impartial,” Ruiz’s attorneys wrote to the high court.
Ruiz also submitted a writ of certiorari so the justices can consider taking up the case through their normal process.
His execution will mark the second in Texas and the fourth nationwide this year. Texas last month gave a lethal injection to Robert Fratta, an ex-police officer who hired two people to kill his wife, and the state has scheduled another for next week.
Ruiz’s death sentence stems from the fatal shooting of Dallas Police Senior Corporal Mark Nix in 2007.
Nix and other officers had engaged in a high-speed vehicle chase with Ruiz, whose car matched the description of one sought in connection with a murder investigation.
He ultimately lost control of his vehicle and crashed. Nix subsequently struck Ruiz’s car with his police baton, and Ruiz then fired a gunshot that struck and killed the officer.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office (R) argued the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction because the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals’ dismissal, which was made on procedural grounds and did not meet the merits, was an adequate and independent state procedural bar.
Paxton also argued that the Dallas County district attorney investigated Ruiz’s allegations of racial bias and found that at least one of the two jurors did not “harbor any such bias and made her decision in this case based solely on the evidence.”
“In short, even if not procedurally barred, Ruiz’s claim of juror bias has no merit,” Paxton’s office wrote.
Ruiz’s execution is scheduled for Wednesday around 7 p.m. ET. Seven other inmates in Texas are slated to be executed later this year.
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