Texas man executed for 2001 kidnapping and murder of 18-year-old woman

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A Texas man who admitted to kidnapping, sexually assaulting and fatally shooting an 18-year-old woman in 2001 was executed Wednesday night.

Ramiro Gonzalez, 41, was pronounced dead at 6:50 p.m. CDT from a chemical injection at Huntsville State Penitentiary for the January 2001 murder. Brigitte Townsend.

Gonzales repeatedly apologized to the victim’s relatives in his final statement from the execution chamber. Just before he spoke, a spiritual adviser chanted a prayer, placing her left hand on his chest.

“I cannot express in words the pain I have caused you, the hurt, what I have taken away and cannot return. I hope this apology will be enough,” the detainee said to the family.

“I never stopped praying that you would forgive me and that one day I would have the opportunity to apologize. I owe you all my life and I hope that one day you will forgive me,” he added, just before a lethal dose of pentobarbital, a sedative, began to flow.

When the medicine took effect, he took seven breaths, then began making sounds resembling snoring. In less than a minute all movement had stopped. Authorities said his death occurred 24 minutes after the injection began.

Gonzales kidnapped Townsend from a rural home in Bandera County, northwest of San Antonio. He then took her to the family ranch in neighboring Medina County, where he sexually assaulted her before killing her. Her body was not found until October 2002, when Gonzales led authorities to her remains in southwest Texas after being sentenced to two life sentences for kidnapping and raping another woman .

The U.S. Supreme Court denied the defense’s request to intervene about an hour and a half before the execution was scheduled to begin. The high court rejected arguments by Gonzales’ lawyers that he had taken responsibility for his actions and that a prosecution expert witness now says he was wrong to testify that Gonzales would pose a future danger to society , a legal conclusion necessary to impose a death sentence. .

“He devoted himself seriously to self-improvement, contemplation and prayer, and became a mature, peaceful, kind, loving and deeply religious adult. He acknowledges his responsibility for his crimes and sought to atone for them and seek redemption through his actions. » Gonzalez had written on Monday in their unsuccessful request to the Supreme Court for a stay of execution. After re-evaluating Gonzales in 2022, Gripon said his prediction was wrong.

Earlier this month, a group of 11 evangelical leaders from Texas and across the country asked the parole board and Gov. Greg Abbott to halt the execution and grant clemency. They had said Gonzalez helped other death row inmates through a faith-based program.

In a video submitted as part of his clemency application to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Gonzales admitted responsibility.

“I just want (Townsend’s mother) to know how truly sorry I am. I took everything of value from my mother,” said Gonzales, who was 18 at the time. “So every day it’s an ongoing task to do everything I can to feel that responsibility for the life that I’ve taken.”

The victim’s brother was not convinced. In various petitions and posts, David Townsend has criticized efforts to portray Gonzales as anything other than a convicted murderer who committed “unforgivable acts.”

“Our family is not seeking revenge, but closure and some measure of peace after years of grief – a quest that is hindered, but not helped, by decisions that allow the author of our pain to remain in the public eye,” he wrote.

On Monday, the parole board voted 7-0 against commuting Gonzales’ death sentence to a lesser sentence. The deputies also refused to grant him a six-month reprieve.

Prosecutors described Gonzales as a sexual predator who told police he ignored Townsend’s pleas to spare his life. They argued that jurors made the right decision regarding the death sentence.

“The penalties imposed by the state were overwhelming,” the Texas Attorney General’s Office said. “Even if Dr. Gripon’s testimony had been removed from the sanctions list, it would not have mattered.”

Gonzales’ execution was the second this year in Texas and the eighth in the United States. On Thursday, Oklahoma is expected to run Richard Rojem for the kidnapping, rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl in 1984.


Lozano reported from Houston.

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