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Judge: Execution Can’t Proceed Without Religious Requests

In March, the Supreme Court ruled states must accommodate the requests of death row inmates who want to have their spiritual advisers pray aloud and touch them during their executions.

In the high court’s opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts urged states to adopt clear rules in advance in order to avoid last-minute appeals to federal courts.

But the Texas prison system declined to formally update its rules, opting instead to review such requests on a case-by-case basis. Some defense attorneys worried that not outlining specific rules would result in more court challenges, like the one filed by Gonzales.

Gonzales’ was condemned for the killing of Townsend, who was the girlfriend of his drug dealer. Gonzales kidnapped Townsend from her Bandera County home in January 2001 after stealing drugs and money.

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In a confession to police, Gonzales said he took her to his family’s ranch in neighboring Medina County, where he sexually assaulted her before fatally shooting her.

Townsend wasn’t found until October 2002, when Gonzales led authorities to her remains after receiving two life sentences for kidnapping and raping another woman.

Gonzales’ attorneys on Tuesday also asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to stay his execution. Last week, they made a separate request to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to grant a 30-day reprieve so Gonzales can make a kidney donation.

This article originally appeared here.