BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A clerical error has prompted a stay of execution for Ruben Gutierrez. According to the Texas Tribune , Gutierrez has been fighting to stop his death by requesting DNA testing. He claims it could prove his innocence in the brutal killing of an elderly woman in Brownsville. It was a clerical error that prompted the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Tuesday to halt his Oct. 30 execution.
The court issued a stay after Gutierrez’s attorneys argued his death warrant didn’t have the proper seal from the court when it was delivered to the sheriff and an attorney, thus invalidating the warrant.
The 42-year-old Gutierrez was given the death penalty in 1999 for the stabbing and beating death of 85-year-old Escolastica Cuellar Harrison during a home robbery. Harrison lived with her nephew in the mobile home park she owned. She had around $600,000 in her house at the time of her death, according to court records.
Ruben Gutierrez said he knew Harrison through her nephew. Two suspects, Rene Garcia and Pedro Gracia along with Gutierrez were accused of planning to rob Harrison.
After the arrest, Gutierrez told police that he had been waiting in a park as the other two went to rob Harrison, stating he didn’t know they were going to kill her. Days later, he said he had gone into the house with Rene Garcia, but that Garcia killed Harrison alone. Even before his trial, Gutierrez has maintained the last statement was false and he “assented to it only after detectives threatened to arrest his wife and take away his children,” according to a recent court filing by his lawyers.