HOUSTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to review an appeal from a Mexican national sentenced to death for the sledgehammer killings of his wife and two children, who were found buried under the bathroom floor in their Texas home.
The high court didn’t include an explanation of its decision not to review the capital murder conviction of 62-year-old Robert Moreno Ramos. His attorneys have argued that Ramos wasn’t told when he was arrested for the 1992 killings that he could get legal help from the Mexican government and that he had deficient legal help at his trial and in earlier appeals. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected their arguments last year.
In 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, found that Ramos, from Aguascalientes, Mexico, and more than four dozen other Mexican citizens awaiting execution in the U.S. weren’t advised of their consular rights under the Vienna Convention when they were arrested. It recommended that they be tried again to determine if consular access would have affected their cases. President President George W. Bush agreed and directed states to reopen the cases.
The Supreme Court overruled that directive, saying that only Congress can require states to follow the international court’s ruling. That has not happened and several Texas inmates named in the international court ruling have since been executed.
Ramos, who also is identified in some court documents as Roberto Moreno Ramos, does not have an execution date.
Evidence at his 1993 trial in Hidalgo County showed he used a sledge hammer to kill his 42-year-old wife, Leticia, their 7-year-old daughter, Abigail, and their 3-year-old son, Jonathan, at their home in Progreso, which is along the Mexico border about 20 miles (32.19 kilometers) southeast of McAllen.
According to court records, Ramos told a cousin they were killed in a car wreck and their bodies were cremated. After providing other conflicting explanations, though, another relative went to police to report the woman and children missing. Their bodies were found buried under a freshly tiled floor in the home’s bathroom.
Evidence also showed Ramos remarried three days after they were killed, telling his new wife that the woman who had been living in his house was a widow and that he’d been providing shelter for her and her two children.