Ruben Gutierrez Avoids Execution for a Third Time

Graphic courtesy of Ashley Defrancis

On Oct. 22, Ruben Gutierrez avoided death for the third time when his execution was stayed due to clerical errors.

Texas law states an execution warrant “under the seal of the court” must be issued by the district clerk within 10 days to the county sheriff. When in the hands of the sheriff, the warrant is escorted to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. At the same time, a different copy of the warrant is sent to the prosecution’s and defense’s offices for review. This process must happen in a timely manner after the execution date is set by the courts.

According to court briefings, the warrant sent to the sheriff and the lawyers didn’t have the seal on it, and it was sent 12 days after the execution date was set. It was on those grounds that Gutierrez’s lawyers issued a stay application.

The court stayed his execution and a new date has not yet been set.
Gutierrez was sentenced to death for the act of robbing and killing 85-year-old Escolastica Harrison in her home. Gutierrez maintains that DNA testing would prove his innocence, but potential testing is pending before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

Gutierrez landed behind bars after the trial was over in 1999. His first execution date was scheduled for September 2018.

His execution was then rescheduled in June of this year due to a defect in the warrant. His execution date was set for Oct. 30.

On Oct. 22, his execution was stayed again due to clerical error.
After avoiding death three times, Gutierrez will be waiting for the courts to decide his next execution date.

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