November 14, 2018 / 7:04 PM / a month ago

Texas executes Mexican who killed his family 26 years ago

(Reuters) - Authorities in Texas executed a Mexican man on Wednesday for bludgeoning to death his 42-year-old wife and two children, using a sledgehammer at their home in 1992, the state said.

Robert Moreno Ramos, 64, was given a lethal injection in the state’s death chamber in Huntsville, and pronounced dead at 9:36 p.m., state corrections officials said.

Before he died, Ramos said he was thankful to the Mexican consulate for battling his death sentence and ensuring he received humane treatment while in prison.

“I am getting my gold watch that it took the governor 30 years to forge,” he said. “Thank you god, Lord send me a chariot. I’m ready.”

Ramos was convicted and sentenced to death in 1993 for killing his wife Leticia and their children, Abigail, 7, and Jonathan, 3, the state’s Department of Justice said in court filings.

After Leticia Ramos’ sister reported she and the two children were missing, officers found their bodies buried beneath the bathroom floor of their Progreso, Texas, home. They had all died from skull fractures more than a month earlier.

Ramos, who was 38 at the time, married another woman three days after the murders and moved her into the home where the victims were buried.

Following the execution, his attorney Danalynn Recer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The government of Mexico condemned the execution, its foreign affairs minister, Luis Videgaray Caso, said on social network Twitter.

“The death penalty is an essential violation of human rights, as well as a cruel and inhumane punishment,” the tweet read.

Lawyers for Ramos filed multiple appeals since 1996 arguing that he did not receive effective trial counseling, was represented by a poorly-trained, court-appointed counsel, and has a history of mental illness.

“Mr. Ramos Moreno’s life was scarred, figuratively and literally, by relentless poverty, devastating physical abuse and rampant neglect,” Recer said in a 2018 court filing.

“He also suffers from organic brain damage directly affecting his ability to control his actions or comprehend their consequences.”

Officials of the Texas Attorney General’s Office said Ramos’ sentencing was justified, adding that his then 19-year-old son testified against him, detailing his experience growing up under his father’s physical and verbal abuse, according to court documents.

At the time, authorities said Ramos told police his family died in a car accident but he did not know where.

He then said he found his family dead upon arriving home, but later confessed to the killings, discarding the murder weapon and fleeing to Arkansas.

Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York and Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Clarence Fernandez

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