View Full Version : Newspaper Probe Points To Wrongful Texas Execution

11-22-2005, 07:17 PM
Newspaper probe points to wrongful Texas execution


(Gold9472: This is why the death penalty may not be prudent.)

2 hours, 23 minutes ago

HOUSTON (Reuters) - A Texas man executed in 1993 for a robbery-murder was probably wrongfully convicted, according to a prosecutor, the jury forewoman, an alibi witness and even a victim, the Houston Chronicle said on Tuesday.

"Ruben Cantu had nothing to do with the murder, attempted murder and robbery of the two men ... I should know," a friend and fellow gang member, David Garza, told the newspaper.

Cantu, only 17 when the crime took place, was convicted of murdering Pedro Gomez during a 1984 robbery largely on the testimony of a single eyewitness, Juan Moreno. Moreno, then 19, an illegal immigrant wounded during the robbery, now says he is positive Cantu was not at the scene.

Moreno twice failed to identify Cantu to police, but did so when they asked him a third time, the Chronicle said. Cantu was put to death by lethal injection in 1993, when he was 26.

"(Police) told me they were certain it was him, and that's why I testified," Moreno told the newspaper. "That was bad to blame someone that was not there."

Texas, President George W. Bush's home state, leads the United States in executions, with 355 since 1982. A Democrat, Ann Richards, was governor when Cantu was put to death.

Cantu would not be executed now - the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this year that it executions are illegal for crimes committed by minors.

Garza confessed to robbery as part of the 1984 break-in in San Antonio. Currently in prison for another crime, he said he was with another teen who committed the murder, not Cantu.

Garza had immunity from further prosecution under a plea deal, but he only sent a cryptic note offering help to Cantu's lawyer a month before the execution date. The attorney, Nancy Barohn, said Garza never offered anything concrete and Cantu never indicated that Garza could clear him.

Miriam Ward, forewoman of the jury that sent Cantu to his fate, said the entire process failed.

"We did the best we could with the information we had, but with a little extra work, a little extra effort, maybe we'd have gotten the right information," she told the newspaper. "The bottom line is an innocent person was put to death for it. We all have our finger in that."

The Bexar County District Attorney at the time, Sam Millsap Jr., now agrees police led Moreno to the identification.

"We have a system that permits people to be convicted based on evidence that could be wrong because it's mistaken or it's corrupt," Millsap, now in private practice, told the Chronicle.

The Bexar County District Attorney's Office, which prosecuted, did not return a call from Reuters on Tuesday.