LIVINGSTON, Texas – A Mexican national on Texas death row has lost an appeal in which he claims he is mentally retarded and therefore ineligible for execution. The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s opinion that Ramiro Hernandez is not retarded, despite expert testimony that he suffers from mood and thought disorders and has received IQ scores ranging from the 50s to the 80s.
In its ruling Friday, the panel also rejected Hernandez’s request to expand his appeal to include claims that his lawyer was both ineffective and biased and that the trial court wrongly admitted evidence of previous convictions in Mexico.
Hernandez was sentenced to death in the 1997 slaying in Kerrville of a rancher who employed him as a hired hand. He is being held in the Polunsky Unit, home of the Texas death row for men.
The New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit is one of 12 regional U.S. appeals courts that hear cases that have run out of state-level appeals. It hears cases out of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.