HOUSTON (AP) - A hitman condemned for carrying out a murder-for-hire plot that left a San Antonio woman dead has lost a federal court appeal, moving him closer to execution.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this week refused 41-year-old Rolando Ruiz's appeal. His attorneys unsuccessfully argued his trial lawyer was deficient for failing to present jurors evidence of an abusive childhood.
Ruiz in 2007 came within an hour of execution when the 5th Circuit gave him a reprieve.
Evidence showed Ruiz collected $2,000 to gun down Theresa Rodriguez at the request of her husband, Michael, and a brother-in-law who stood to gain about $250,000 from her insurance.
Her husband later joined Ruiz on death row as one of the notorious Texas Seven gang of escaped inmates. He was executed in 2008.
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