Texas Prisoner Gets Reprieve From Death Sentence More Than an Hour After He Was to Die

A hitman, paid $2,000 to kill a San Antonio, Texas woman 15 years ago was given a reprieve from his death sentence. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals granted Rolando Ruiz a stay of execution more than an hour after he was scheduled to die.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Ruiz said he didn’t expect the stay; “I guess you could say I’m happy.”

Ruiz had a history of drug and alcohol abuse before he was hired by Michael and Mark Rodriguez to kill Michael’s wife. The brothers planned to collect more than $250,000 in insurance. The brothers accepted plea deals, receiving life sentences in exchange for turning on Ruiz. Michael later escaped from death row, with six others, and killed a Dallas police officer during a robbery. He has joined Ruiz on death row.

Ruiz’s attorneys argued that his state-appointed lawyer had failed, in earlier appeals, to identify his drug and alcohol problems and poor childhood as mitigating factors that should have been considered by the jury before they sentenced Ruiz to death. The 5th Circuit said, in granting the stay, that it needed more time to review the case.

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