Execution stayed in 1998 killing of 85-year-old Valley woman

Death row inmate Ruben Gutierrez. Via the Texas Department of Criminal Justice

HOUSTON (AP) — An appeals court has granted a stay of execution for a Texas inmate convicted of fatally stabbing an 85-year-old woman more than 20 years ago as part of an attempt to steal more than $600,000 she had hidden in her home.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Tuesday issued the stay for Ruben Gutierrez after it found problems with the death warrant issued to schedule his Oct. 30 execution.

Gutierrez has long maintained his innocence in the 1998 killing of Escolastica Harrison at her Brownsville home and he is asking for DNA testing that he says could point to the real killer.

Prosecutors say the DNA testing request is a “ruse” and that Gutierrez was convicted on a variety of evidence, including a confession.

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