Man on death row for screwdriver slaying of Rio Grande Valley woman, 85, loses federal appeal


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HOUSTON — A 37-year-old convicted murderer on death row for the fatal stabbing and robbery of an 85-year-old Rio Grande Valley woman has lost a federal court appeal.

Attorneys for Ruben Gutierrez argued to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that he was questioned improperly by police following his arrest for the 1998 slaying of Escolastica Harrison and robbery of $56,000 from her Brownsville home.

Gutierrez also contended jurors who convicted him engaged in misconduct, prosecutors improperly questioned a witness regarding his religious beliefs, DNA evidence wasn't timely disclosed and evidence didn't support his conviction and death sentence.

The appeals court Thursday rejected each of the arguments.

Evidence showed the woman, who managed and owned a mobile home park from her home, likely was fatally stabbed with two screwdrivers.

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