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Texas man Ramiro Gonzales set for lethal injection in 2001 killing of teenager

Huntsville, Texas — A Texas man who admitted that he kidnapped, sexually assaulted and fatally shot an 18-year-old woman in 2001 was set for execution Wednesday evening.

Ramiro GonzalesThe remains of Bridget Townsend weren't found until October 2002, two years after she vanished, when Ramiro Gonzales — having received two life sentences for kidnapping and raping another woman — led authorities to the spot in southwest Texas where he had left her body.

A lethal injection was planned to begin after 6 p.m. CDT at the state penitentiary in Huntsville.

Gonzales, 41, was condemned for fatally shooting Townsend after kidnapping her in January 2001 from a home in Bandera County, located northwest of San Antonio. He took her to his family’s ranch in neighboring Medina County, where he sexually assaulted her and killed her.

About 1½ hours before Gonzales' scheduled injection, the U.S. Supreme Court declined a defense request to stop the execution. The high court rejected arguments by Gonzales’ lawyers that he has taken responsibility for what he did and that a prosecution expert witness now says he was wrong in testifying that Gonzales would be a future danger to society, a legal finding needed to impose a death sentence.

“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 Monday in their petition. A group of faith leaders also asked authorities to stop Gonzales' execution.

Gonzales’ lawyers argued that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals violated his constitutional rights by declining to review his claims that a prosecution expert, psychiatrist Edward Gripon, wrongly asserted Gonzales would be a future danger. After re-evaluating Gonzales in 2022, Gripon said his prediction was wrong.

“I just want (Townsend’s mother) to know how sorry I really am. I took everything that was valuable from a mother,” Gonzales, who was 18 at the time of the killing, said in a video submitted as part of his clemency request to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. “So, every day it’s a continual task to do everything that I can to feel that responsibility for the life that I took.”

Bridget Townsend’s brother isn't persuaded. In various petitions and posts on, David Townsend has criticized efforts to portray Gonzales as anything other than a convicted murderer who committed “unforgivable acts." He said the death sentence should be carried out.

“Our family seeks not revenge, but closure and a measure of peace after years of heartache — a quest that is hindered, not helped, by decisions that allow the perpetrator of our pain to remain in the public eye,” David Townsend wrote.

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 to Gonzalez, saying he now helps other death row inmates through a faith-based program.

“We are writing as Christians calling for you to spare the life of another Christian – Ramiro Gonzales. Ramiro has changed. Because he has changed, we believe the circumstances surrounding him should change as well,” they wrote.

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

Prosecutors described Gonzales as a sexual predator who told police he ignored Townsend’s pleas to spare her life. They argued that jurors reached the right decision on a death sentence because he had a long criminal history and showed no remorse.

“The State’s punishment case was overwhelming,” the Texas Attorney General’s Office said. “Even if Dr. Gripon’s testimony were wiped from the punishment slate, it would not have mattered.”

If Gonzales’ execution proceeds, it would be the second this year in Texas.

Copyright Associated Press

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