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Texas executes Ramiro Gonzales for 2001 murder, rape of 18-year-old woman

Ramiro Gonzales was put to death by lethal injection Wednesday evening

Texas death row inmate Ramiro Gonzales was executed by lethal injection Wednesday, despite numerous appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court, for the 2001 murder and rape of a teenage woman.

Gonzales was pronounced dead at 6:50 p.m. following a chemical injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville. His execution comes after he admitted to fatally shooting 18-year-old Bridget Townsend, a southwest Texas woman whose remains were found nearly two years after she vanished in 2001.

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Ramiro Gonzales, 41, was pronounced dead at 6:50 p.m. CDT following a chemical injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville for the January 2001 killing of Bridget Townsend.

Ramiro Gonzales, 41, was pronounced dead at 6:50 p.m. CDT following a chemical injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville for the January 2001 killing of Bridget Townsend. (Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP)

In a statement released by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Gonzales repeatedly apologized to the victim’s family from the execution chamber.

“I can’t put into words the pain I have caused y’all, the hurt, what I took away that I cannot give back. I hope this apology is enough,” he said.

“I never stopped praying that you would forgive me and that one day I would have this opportunity to apologize. I owe all of you my life and I hope one day you will forgive me,” he added.

The U.S. Flag and Texas State Flag flying in the air

The U.S flag and the Texas State flag fly over the Texas State Capitol (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

Townsend, who would have turned 41 this year, was kidnapped from her home in January 2001 and sexually assaulted by Gonzales before he murdered her.

Her body wasn’t found until October 2002, when Gonzales led authorities to her remains in southwest Texas after he had received two life sentences for kidnapping and raping another woman.

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“We have finally witnessed justice being served,” Townsend’s brother, David, said after watching the execution. “This day marks the end of a long and painful journey for our family. For over two decades, we have endured unimaginable pain and heartache.”

David said Gonzales’ death “provides us a little bit of peace. I do want to say we are not joyous, we are not happy. This is a very, very sad day for everyone all the way around.”

Empty Idaho Execution Room

FILE – The execution chamber at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution is shown as Security Institution Warden Randy Blades look on in Boise, Idaho on Oct. 20, 2011.  (AP Photo/Jessie L. Bonner, File)

Gonzales’ attorneys, Thea Posel and Raoul Schonemann, previously made requests asking the board to change his death sentence to a lesser penalty.

“He has earnestly devoted himself to self-improvement, contemplation, and prayer, and has grown into a mature, peaceful, kind, loving, and deeply religious adult. He acknowledges his responsibility for his crimes and has sought to atone for them and to seek redemption through his actions,” Gonzales’ lawyers wrote in a request to the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday.

Earlier this month, a group of 11 evangelical leaders from Texas and around the country asked the parole board and Gov. Greg Abbott to halt the execution and grant clemency.

On Monday, the parole board voted 7-0 against commuting Gonzales’ death sentence to a lesser penalty. Members also rejected granting him a six-month reprieve.

 

Gonzales’ execution was the second this year in Texas and the eighth in the U.S.

On Thursday, Oklahoma is scheduled to execute Richard Rojem for the 1984 abduction, rape and killing of a 7-year-old girl.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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