Execution scheduled for condemned Cameron County man

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Ruben Gutierrez

An execution date has been scheduled for a 46-year-old Cameron County man convicted of a brutal murder in 1998.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice records indicate that Ruben Gutierrez is scheduled for execution on July 16.

A jury convicted him in 1999 of murdering 85-year-old Escolastica Harrison in her trailer home on Sept. 5, 1998.

Gutierrez and two men had sought to rob Harrison of about $600,000 they believed Harrison, who did not trust banks, had hidden in her home.

She was repeatedly hit and stabbed multiple times in the head before the men fled the residence with approximately $56,000.

In February, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Gutierrez’s latest attempt to obtain post-conviction DNA testing.

Gutierrez’s attempts to obtain the testing through state and federal courts date back to 2010. They have all been unsuccessful.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied his initial appeal in 2008.

He had sought DNA testing on multiple pieces of evidence, including several blood samples from inside the home, a loose hair recovered from Harrison’s finger, Harrison’s nail scrapings, a blood sample from Harrison, and a shirt belonging to her nephew that had blood on it.

Gutierrez has acknowledged being involved in the robbery, but has argued DNA testing would show he was not in Harrison’s home and that jurors would not have convicted him and sentenced him to death had this evidence been available at trial.

With the denial of his latest appeal, the evidence will not be re-tested.

Following that denial in February, Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz said he hoped the ruling cleared the way for Gutierrez’s execution.

“Yet again Gutierrez’s effort to delay the administration of justice has failed,” Saenz said in a statement. “My hope if that this ruling from the Fifth Circuit will clear the way for the Cameron County jury’s verdict to finally be carried out and justice for Mrs. Harrison finally served.”