Ruben Gutierrez, a Brownsville man who was scheduled for execution on Oct. 27 of this year, filed a motion for DNA testing in the 107th District Court in Cameron County.
Gutierrez was convicted in 1999 for the killing of Escolastica Harrison during a home robbery. Gutierrez has sought DNA testing for more than a decade.
“Throughout his trial and in the subsequent proceedings, Ruben Gutierrez has maintained that he did not kill Escolastica Harrison, and that he had no knowledge that others were going to assault or kill her. DNA testing could identify the actual perpetrator(s) of this crime,” the motion reads.
“Had exculpatory DNA evidence been presented to the jurors, they would have found that Mr. Gutierrez did not kill Ms. Harrison, did not intend for Ms. Harrison to be killed, and did not anticipate that she would be killed. Exculpatory DNA evidence would have established that Mr. Gutierrez was innocent of the death penalty, and the jurors would have sentenced him to life instead of death.”
The motion also states Gutierrez has always maintained that he did not commit the crime and no physical or forensic evidence connects him to it.
His wrongful conviction was based solely on a false confession elicited after police threaten to arrest his wife and take their children away and an unreliable eyewitness, according to the motion.
At trial, the eyewitness was not able to make an in-court identification of Mr. Gutierrez and picked out someone from the gallery and a juror, instead of Mr. Gutierrez who was sitting at the defense table, the motion reads.
Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed Gutierrez’s execution because Texas violated his first amendment right to have the assistance of clergy in the execution chamber.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has since changed its protocol to allow a prisoner to be accompanied by a spiritual adviser of their choosing in the execution chamber, the press release reads.