Despite calls for delay, Mexican citizen set for execution
By ALLAN TURNER
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has dealt capital killer Jose Medellin a major setback in his bid to escape the executioner's needle, throwing out his bid for a post-conviction writ of habeas corpus and his motion for a stay.
Medellin, 33, convicted in the 1993 rape-murder of Jennifer Ertman, 14, and Elizabeth Pena, 16, still has motions for stays pending with the U.S. Supreme Court and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.
He is scheduled to be put to death Tuesday.
Medellin's attorneys could not be reached for comment Friday.
Medellin, a Mexican national, had filed his appeal based on arguments that Houston police deprived him of his right to contact the Mexican consulate after his arrest. The right is guaranteed by the United Nation's Vienna Convention of Consular Relations, to which the United States is a party.
Last month, the UN's world court ordered Medellin be granted a stay so that a hearing could be held on whether that violation damaged his defense.
Texas authorities responded that Medellin was not informed of his UN rights because he did not identify himself as a Mexican citizen. Thus far, they have resisted pressure from President Bush and other U.S. officials to comply with the world court order.
The Texas appeals court, in a ruling posted today, held that the latest petition, supposedly containing late-developing arguments and facts that could not have been presented earlier, was not filed in a timely manner.
Medellin was one of six gang members arrested in the dual killings in TC Jester Park. Gang member Derrick O'Brien was executed in July 2006. Peter Cantu also has been condemned. Two other gang members, minors at the time of the crime, have had their death sentences commuted to life. Medellin's brother, only 14 at the time of the killings, is serving a 40-year sentence.
Judge Cathy Cochran, in concurring with the appeals court's majority opinion, wrote that there is "no likelihood at all" that the inadvertent violation of the Vienna Convention harmed Medellin's defense.
"This was a truly despicable crime committed by ... deadly brutal young men who were deadly dangerous to anyone who might find themselves near them. All five were sentenced to death by separate juries after hearing all of the evidence in each of their individual trials.
"No matter how long the courts of this state, this nation, or any other nation review, re-review and re-review once again the disgusting facts of this crime and these perpetrators, the result should be the same: These juries reached a reasonable verdict, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a sentence of death was the only appropriate punishment under Texas law."