Man executed in Texas for killing 12-year-old boy
A South Texas man has been executed for the 1998 murder of a 12-year-old boy.
Pablo Lucio Vasquez told police he drank the youngster's blood after beating him with a pipe and slitting his throat.
Vasquez claimed he was drunk and high when voices convinced him to kill David Cardenas in Donna, a Texas border town about 225 miles south of San Antonio.
Asked by the warden if he had a final statement, Vasquez, 38, told relatives watching through a window that he loved them and thanked them for being there, before addressing an adjacent window where four of his victim's relatives stood.
"I'm sorry to David's family," he said.
"This is the only way that I can be forgiven. You got your justice right here."
As the lethal dose of pentobarbital began taking effect, Vasquez said he felt a little dizzy.
"See you on the other side," he said, raising his head off the pillow and looking toward two of his sisters, a brother-in-law and a cousin.
He was pronounced dead 24 minutes later.
David Cardenas' relatives declined to speak with reporters following the execution, the 11th this year in the US - six of them in Texas alone.
The punishment was carried out about four hours after the US Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Vasquez's lawyer, James Keegan.
He had sought a reprieve so the justices could review whether several potential jurors were improperly excused from Vasquez's capital murder trial because they were either opposed to the death penalty or not comfortable with making such a judgment.
State lawyers opposed any delay, arguing the potential jurors' exclusion was legally proper and that the latest appeal amounted to "nothing more than a meritless attempt to postpone his execution", assistant Texas attorney general Jeremy Greenwell said.
Earlier, unsuccessful appeals, including one rejected last month by a federal judge, focused on whether Vasquez was mentally ill and should be ineligible for the death penalty.
Court records showed Vasquez, his 15-year-old cousin, Andres Rafael Chapa, and David Cardenas, Chapa's friend, had all attended a party in Donna, a Texas border town where Vasquez and Chapa lived.
David was from nearby Alamo, also in the Rio Grande Valley, and was spending the weekend with Chapa.
The killing occurred April 18 1998, after the three left the party. Vasquez told authorities that as they reached a wooden shed he started hearing voices telling him to kill David.
"Something just told me to drink," Vasquez said in the statement to police.
"You drink what?" a detective asked.
"His blood," Vasquez replied.
Police received an anonymous tip about the slaying that led them to Chapa and eventually to Vasquez, who was arrested in Conroe, a Houston suburb more than 325 miles north of Donna.
Authorities found the mutilated body five days later under some scraps of aluminium in a vacant field.
"It was really horrendous," Joseph Orendain, the lead trial prosecutor, recalled last week.
Vasquez declined an interview request as his execution date neared. His statement to police about the devil and drinking blood fuelled speculation about Satanism, but the subject never came up at Vasquez's trial or in appeals.
Chapa pleaded guilty to a murder charge and is serving a 35-year prison term. Three other relatives of Chapa and Vasquez received probation and a small fine for helping cover up the slaying. One of them was deported to Guatemala.