Sunday, January 29, 2012

Condemned Man Admits Murders Moments Before Execution

The 2nd Execution of 2012
Convicted killer Rodrigo Hernandez was executed at a Huntsville Prison last week for raping and strangling a Texas woman in 1994. 

Hernandez said little in the moments before he died, according to the Houston Chronicle."I want to tell everybody that I love everybody," he said. "We are all family, people of God almighty. We're all good. I'm ready."

As the lethal injection took its course, reporters heard him say, "This stuff stinks, man. Almighty," although a state transcript released minutes later quoted it as, "This stuff stings, man," reported the Chronicle.

Hernandez was condemned after being convicted in the murder of a San Antonio woman, Susan Verstegen, whose slaying was a cold case until 2002, when a DNA sample Hernandez provided as a condition of his parole for an assault in Grand Rapids, Michigan, matched evidence collected in the San Antonio killing. After Verstegen was killed, her body was put in a 55-gallon drum behind a baseball field.

Hernandez maintained his innocence through it all, but recanted moments before execution.

“It still doesn't seem real. I did not commit this murder; I'll take that to the grave,” he told the San Antonio Express-News recently. “My grandma raised me to respect women.” He described himself as a “family man.”

In 2009, while Hernandez was on death row, Michigan detectives also connected him to the 1991 rape and fatal shooting of Muriel Stoepker, 77, a homeless woman.Stoepker was shot several times in the head with her body dumped on a parking-lot doorway at GRCC. She was once a successful legal secretary but suffered mental illness that eventually put her on the street.

Hernandez declined to talk to a Michigan detective in 2010 about Stoepker's slaying, and again when interviewed this month. But in a letter to an Express-News reporter days before his execution, he wrote, "I didn't do it; I payed (sic) for (oral sex), that's it, that's where they found my DNA."

When it became apparent that Hernandez's life would not be spared or his execution postponed, he admitted he shot and killed Muriel Stoepker near Grand Rapids Community College campus, and raped and strangled Susan Verstegen whose killing in San Antonio led to his execution.

“I can tell you, Mr. Hernandez did not want (the execution) to happen,” Michigan State Police detective Sgt. Sally Wolter said after the execution, reported the The Grand Rapids Press.

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