Thursday, November 15, 2018

Texas executes man convicted of killing wife and two children

The 21st Execution of 2018
Texas executed Robert Moreno Ramos by lethal injection on November 14, 2018, amid his lawyers’ continued pleas up until the final hour that the case be re-examined for legal violations from 25 years ago, reported the Texas Tribune.
Ramos, 64, was convicted of capital murder in March 1993 for the February 1992 killings of his wife, Leticia, 42, and their two children, Abigail, 7, and Jonathon, 3, in Hidalgo County. Ramos, a Mexican national, beat his wife and children with a miniature sledgehammer, and then buried them under the bathroom floor in the family’s Progreso home, according to trial evidence.
Ramos’ case had been a point of contention in both district and federal courts for years, due to requirements of an international treaty. The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations mandates that when an immigrant is arrested and held in detention, he has the right for the consulate to be notified so that the foreign government can provide legal representation.
Lawyers in Ramos’ case had argued in appeals since 1996 that Ramos wasn’t aware of his rights, and therefore didn’t receive sufficient legal guidance that they say could have made a difference in his sentencing.
His current lawyer, Danalynn Recer, wrote in a 2015 filing that Ramos was instead represented by court-appointed, “incompetent counsel” who was poorly trained and failed to present “mitigating evidence” at his conviction and sentencing that disregarded Ramos’ brain damage and history of severe mental illness, including bipolar disorder, as well as his upbringing marked by “shocking brutality and desperate poverty.”
On Feb. 7, 1992, a neighbor reported that she had heard screams coming from the Ramos home. For nearly two months after the murders, Ramos dodged questions regarding his wife and children’s location, until his sister-in-law reported Leticia Ramos and the children as missing. In court records, it is noted that Ramos was having an affair and had married the woman three days after the killings.
Police questioned Ramos at the end of March about his family’s disappearance. After providing contradictory statements — saying first that his family was in Austin, then San Antonio and Mexico — Ramos was later arrested on traffic violations and brought to the police station.
Police obtained permission to search the house on April 6. They found traces of blood throughout the home. After another round of questioning on April 7, Ramos admitted that he buried the victims under the bathroom floor, where police eventually excavated the bodies from underneath newly installed tiling.
During Ramos’ sentencing, his 19-year-old son testified against him, detailing harrowing accounts of growing up under his father’s physical and verbal abuse. Another woman testified that Ramos was likely responsible for the disappearance of her daughter, who married Ramos in 1988 in Reynosa and who had not been seen by her family since 1989.
Ramos was found guilty and sentenced to death in March 1993.
The Mexican government eventually filed a case against the United States in 2003 that bundled Ramos with more than 50 other Mexican immigrants sentenced to death in the U.S. who did not receive consulate-sponsored representation under the treaty. The case went to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, which determined in 2004 that the U.S. government had violated the treaty.
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