Last night, Rolando Ruiz sat in a holding cell outside of Texas’ execution chamber for the second time, waiting to see if he would have to enter it. In 2007, a federal court halted his execution the night it was scheduled, and he walked out knowing he would live to see another day. This time, the U.S. Supreme Court denied his final appeals more than four hours after his execution was originally scheduled, with a dissent from Justice Stephen Breyer, the Texas Tribune reports.
He was sent into the chamber, strapped to a gurney and injected with a lethal dose of pentobarbital at 10:37 p.m. Twenty-nine minutes later, Ruiz, 44, was pronounced dead. It was the third execution in Texas this year, the fifth in the U.S. In 1992, Ruiz shot and killed 29-year-old Theresa Rodriguez in her San Antonio garage. He was a 20-year-old hitman, paid $2,000 by the woman’s husband and brother-in-law, who were out to collect her life insurance money. Breyer would like to have used Ruiz’s case to explore whether extended periods of time on death row qualify as cruel and unusual punishment.