CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Texas Executes José Medellín

In a case that has drawn international attention, Texas executed José E. Medellín on Tuesday night in defiance of an international court ruling and despite pleas from the Bush administration for a new hearing.

The execution came just before 10 p.m. Central time, shortly after the United States Supreme Court denied a last request for a reprieve. Protesters for and against the death penalty clamored in the rain outside the Huntsville Unit, about 70 miles north of Houston, where Mr. Medellín was executed by lethal injection.

“I’m sorry my actions caused you pain,” he said to the witnesses present. “I hope this brings you the closure that you seek. Never harbor hate.”

Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, rejected calls from Mexico and Washington to delay the execution, citing the torture, rape and strangulation of two teenage girls in Houston 15 years ago as just cause for the death penalty.

Mr. Medellín and five other teenage boys in his street gang took part in the rape and murder of the girls, Elizabeth Pena, 16, and Jennifer Ertman, 14. The gang raped the girls for an hour, then strangled them. Their corpses were found two days later.

Two other members of the gang were also sentenced to die. Two had their sentences commuted to life in prison. The sixth, Mr. Medellín’s brother, Vernacio, is serving a 40-year sentence.

Mr. Medellín’s case has become the focal point of a dispute between Mexico and the United States over whether some Mexicans have been denied fair trials because they were never given an opportunity to talk to a consul. A 1963 treaty requires foreigners accused of crimes to be given that opportunity.

Over the last five days, Mr. Medellín’s lawyers tried to stop the execution by arguing to the Supreme Court that it should be put off until Congress had a chance to pass pending legislation that would require a review of similar cases. They argued that Mr. Medellín would be deprived of life without due process if he died before Congress acted.

But the court, in a 5-to-4 decision, said the possibility of Congressional action was too remote to justify a stay. Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote in dissent that to permit the execution would place the United States “irremediably in violation of international law and breaks our treaty promises.”

Read full article here. [Brooks Holland]

Capital Punishment, Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law, International | Permalink

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This rapist/murderer has been living at the expense of the Texas taxpayers for the past 15 years. Here's my feeling on his execution. We should box up his body and send it to the Texas/Mexico border. On arrival, we should turn over the body to the Mexican government and his family only after a bill for room, board, food, medical care, legal fees, etc. is paid in full along with compensation to the victim's families. After that is done, they can bury him where they want to. If it is not done, he gets buried in a cardboard box in an unmarked grave. Bottom line...don't come to Texas and kill our people and expect to get away with it because you are from another country. Murder is murder...and we execute murders here in Texas.

Posted by: Mike in San Antonio | Aug 6, 2008 12:53:54 PM

Right! Like the Mexican government could have effectively helped him anyway! They can't even provide a proper education to their OWN citizens, or decent plumbing, OR a less-than-fully corrupted government.

After reading what this scumbag had done, I wish he had been executed by being thrown into a tiger enclosure at a zoo, rather than the far-too-easy method of execution he received.

Those teen girls didn't get to confer with counsel before their lives were taken. This bastard got nineteen more years of life than his younger victim. I hope he is screaming in Hell right now.

Posted by: duckthunder2001 | Aug 6, 2008 4:23:02 PM

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