Texas ready to execute member of ‘Texas 7’ for policeman’s murder

US

(Reuters) – Texas is scheduled on Tuesday to execute a member of the “Texas 7,” a group of inmates who killed a police officer at a sporting goods store on Christmas Eve in 2000 after they escaped a maximum security prison days earlier.

Joseph Garcia, 47, is scheduled to die by lethal injection in the state’s death chamber in Huntsville at 6 p.m.

Garcia was serving a 50-year sentence for murder when he and six other inmates broke out of maximum security prison in Kenedy, Texas, on Dec. 13, 2000, court documents showed.

Eleven days later, on Christmas Eve, Garcia and the other escapees robbed a sporting goods store in Irving. Police officer Aubrey Hawkins, 31, was shot and killed by the group as the men fled, according to court filings.

They were apprehended about a month later at a Colorado RV park where one of the escapees committed suicide.

Garcia was sentenced to die in 2013 after he was convicted of capital murder of a police officer.

Despite not shooting Hawkins, he was convicted of murder under the state’s law of parties, a statue that holds a person criminally responsible if they act as an accomplice.

Garcia’s attorneys have for years unsuccessfully challenged the merits of the case and conviction in court, including filing an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court last week.

In their appeals to the high court, they are challenging the law’s constitutionality, arguing that his conviction along with his 15 years on death row violate the U.S. Constitution that protects against cruel and unusual punishment.

“Garcia, who neither killed nor intended to kill, is not among ‘the worst of the worst’ for whom capital punishment is meant to be reserved,” they wrote.

Three of the escaped inmates have been executed while two others are on death row.

Garcia would be the 12th inmate to be executed in Texas and the 22nd in the United States in 2018, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, an organization that tracks the death penalty in the United States.

Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Sandra Maler

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