Mexican National Seeks Last-Minute Reprieve From Death Penalty
POSTED: 3:54 pm CDT August 1, 2008
UPDATED: 4:00 pm CDT August 1, 2008
WASHINGTON -- Four months after losing his case at the Supreme Court, a Mexican citizen facing execution next week in Texas asked the justices Friday for a last-minute reprieve. Jose Medellin, set to die Tuesday for his participation in the gang rape and beating deaths of two Houston girls, said that the high court should block his execution until Texas grants him a new hearing to comply with an international court ruling. The state has so far refused, and the court ruled in March that neither President Bush nor the international court can force Texas' hand. But Medellin says Congress or the Texas legislature should be given a chance to pass a law ordering a new hearing before he can be executed.
Four Democratic lawmakers have introduced such a bill in Congress, but it probably will not be acted upon this year. The Texas legislature does not meet again until January.
Medellin is one of roughly 50 Mexicans on death rows around the nation who were denied prompt access to their country's consular officials after being arrested in the United States. The access is guaranteed by international treaty.
In 2004, the World Court said the prisoners should have new court hearings to determine whether the absence of contact with consular officials affected the cases. Bush, while saying he disagreed with the ruling, nevertheless said the United States was obligated by treaty to comply with it and ordered the states to follow suit.
Texas refused, which is how Medellin's case ended up before the Supreme Court.
Bush was in the unusual position of siding with the death-row inmate against the state he served as governor, after having overseen 152 executions in Texas.
The high court ruled 6-3 that Texas had no obligation to reopen Medellin's case.
The World Court last month ordered U.S. authorities to do everything possible to halt executions scheduled in Texas of Medellin and four other Mexicans until their cases are reviewed.
The Bush administration has said it expected the World Court's order to have little impact.
On Thursday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state's highest criminal court, rejected Medellin's latest appeal.