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Monday 22 September 2014

Mexican national executed in Texas

Published 23/01/2014 | 04:57

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The family of Edgar Tamayo pray after receiving word the execution of the Mexican national would proceed (AP)

A Mexican national was executed in Texas for killing a Houston police officer, despite pleas and diplomatic pressure from the Mexican government and the US State Department to halt the punishment.

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Edgar Tamayo, 46, received a lethal injection at Huntsville prison for the 1994 fatal shooting of Officer Guy Gaddis, 24.

Asked by a warden if he had a final statement, he mumbled "no" and shook his head.

As the lethal dose of pentobarbital began taking effect, he took a few breaths and then made one slightly audible snore before all movement stopped.

He was pronounced dead 17 minutes after the drug was administered, at 9.32pm local time.

Tamayo never looked toward Mr Gaddis' mother, two brothers and two other relatives who watched through a window. He selected no witnesses of his own.

There were several dozen police officers and supporters of the dead patrolman were revving their motorcycles outside of the prison before witnesses were let inside the death chamber.

The execution, the first this year in the nation's most active death penalty state, came after the US Supreme Court and lower federal courts rejected last-day appeals.

Texas officials spurned arguments that Tamayo's case was tainted because he was not informed, under an international agreement, that he could get legal help from the Mexican consulate after his arrest for the officer's killing.

Lawyers had also argued unsuccessfully that Tamayo was mentally impaired, making him ineligible for execution, and that the state's clemency procedures were unfair.

The Texas board of pardons and paroles had rejected Tamayo's request for clemencyon Tuesday.

Mr Gaddis, who had been on the force for two years, was driving Tamayo and another man from a robbery scene when evidence showed the officer was shot three times in the head and neck with a pistol Tamayo had concealed.

The car crashed, and Tamayo fled on foot but was captured a few blocks away, still in handcuffs, carrying the robbery victim's watch and wearing the victim's necklace.

Mexican officials and Tamayo's lawyers claim he was protected under a provision of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

Legal assistance guaranteed under that treaty could have uncovered evidence to contest the capital murder charge or provide evidence to keep Tamayo off death row, they said.

Records show the consulate became involved or aware of the case just as his trial was to begin.

Secretary of State John Kerry previously asked Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to delay Tamayo's punishment, saying it "could impact the way American citizens are treated in other countries". The State Department repeated that stance yesterday.

But Mr Abbott's office and the Harris County district attorney opposed any delays.

At least two other inmates in circumstances similar to Tamayo's were executed in Texas in recent years.

The Mexican government said in a statement this week it "strongly opposed" the execution and said failure to review Tamayo's case and reconsider his sentence would be "a clear violation by the United States of its international obligations".

Tamayo was in the US illegally and had a criminal record in California, where he had served time for robbery and was paroled, according to prison records.

Tamayo was among more than four dozen Mexican nationals awaiting execution in the US when the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, ruled in 2004 they had not been advised properly of their consular rights.

The Supreme Court subsequently said hearings urged by the international court in those inmates' cases could be mandated only if Congress implemented legislation to do so.

"Unfortunately, this legislation has not been adopted," the Mexican foreign ministry acknowledged.

AP

Press Association

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