Allan Turner, Houston Chronicle, July 5, 2011
Texas thumbed its nose at the White House and the United Nations on Tuesday as it cleared the way for Thursday’s execution of Humberto Leal Garcia Jr., a Mexican national who was denied access to his nation’s consulate after being arrested for a San Antonio rape-murder.
The Texas Board of Pardons and Parole’s 4-1 rejection of Leal’s bid for a 180-day reprieve marks the second time in four years that Texas has resisted national and international calls that it observe the U.N.’s Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, which guarantees foreign defendants contact with their governments’ representatives.
His fate now rests with the U.S. Supreme Court, which is considering a stay of execution request from the Obama administration.
Leal, 38, was sentenced to die for the May 24, 1994, murder of 16-year-old Adria Sauceda. The girl was found naked on a rural road in San Antonio after being raped and then bludgeoned with a chunk of asphalt.
Tuesday’s parole board decision to deny a reprieve came despite a June plea from six former diplomats urging the stay be granted. In a letter to Perry and the board, they warned that the security of Americans detained on charges while traveling or living abroad depends on signers of the Vienna Convention–including the U.S.–honoring their treaty obligations.
If the Mexican-born Leal, who has lived in the United States since age 2, is executed, it will mark the second time in four years that Texas has defied international demands that it observe the Vienna Convention.
In August 2008, the state executed Mexican citizen Jose Medellin for the 1993 strangulation of two Houston teenagers, Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pena.
“Texas is not bound by a foreign court’s ruling,” Cesinger said. “The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that the treaty was not binding on states and that the president does not have authority to order review of cases of foreign nationals on death row in the U.S.”