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Judge: Execution can’t proceed without religious requests

By JUAN A. LOZANO
Associated Press

HOUSTON (AP) — A federal judge has issued a temporary order telling Texas prison officials that they can carry out next week’s scheduled execution of a death row inmate only if they grant all of his religious accommodations, including allowing his spiritual adviser to hold his hand when he receives a lethal injection.

Ramiro Gonzales is scheduled to be executed July 13 for the 2001 fatal shooting of 18-year-old Bridget Townsend.

Texas prison officials have objected to allowing Gonzales’ spiritual adviser to hold his hand during the execution, saying it could be a security risk.

Gonzales says the specific physical contact he’s requested is “vitally important” to his religious beliefs.

A prison system spokeswoman says her agency is still evaluating the judge’s order.

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