Texas inmate to be executed over $8 killing

2015-10-06 17:23
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Houston - Juan Martin Garcia, convicted of killing another man in a robbery in Houston that yielded just $8, is scheduled for execution on Tuesday. No late appeals have been filed on his behalf.

He was convicted of capital murder for the September 1998 killing and robbery of Hugh Solano, a Christian missionary from Mexico who had moved his family to the city just weeks earlier so his children could be educated in the US.

Garcia, who acknowledges shooting Solano and is linked to a string of aggravated robberies and two attempted murders, insists he has been unfairly penalised because he didn't take the witness stand in his own defence at trial.

The US Supreme Court refused to review Garcia's case in March. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, in a 5-2 vote, refused a clemency request from Garcia last week.

"If it's God's will, it's his will," Garcia, 35, told The Associated Press last month from inside a cage at a Texas prison.

His lethal injection would be the 11th this year in Texas, which carries out capital punishment more than any other state. Three more executions are scheduled in coming weeks.

Evidence at his 2000 trial and testimony from a companion identified him as the ringleader of four men involved in the shooting and robbery. The slaying and a string of other violent crimes tied to Garcia, who was 18 at the time, convinced a jury he should be put to death.

Garcia, his two cousins and another man had already carried out a hijacking when they spotted Solano early on September 17, 1998, getting into his van to go to work.

Eleazar Mendoza, who pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery and was sentenced to 55 years in prison, testified that Garcia approached Solano and pointed a gun. Mendoza said Garcia ordered Solano to surrender his money then shot him when he refused.

Garcia said Mendoza came up with the idea to rob Solano and that Solano escalated the confrontation by resisting.

"He punches me," Garcia said from prison. "First thing that came through my mind is that the dude is going to try to kill me. He grabbed the gun with both of his hands and it discharged."

Solano was shot four times in the head and neck.

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