Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Oklahoma executes man for 1993 murders

The 41st Execution of 2012

George Ochoa was executed in Oklahoma on December 4, 2012.  He was given an injection of lethal drugs at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary at McAlester less than a month after the state Pardon and Parole Board rejected Ochoa's request that it recommend Gov. Mary Fallin reduce his death sentence to life in prison, reported The Associated Press.

Ochoa is one of two men convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Francisco Morales, 38, and Maria Yanez, 35. Investigators say Morales was shot 12 times and Yanez 11 times in their bedroom on July 12, 1993. The couple's three children were inside the house at the time of the shootings. 

According to AP, Ochoa claimed he had been shocked and suffered injuries during his incarceration, but prosecutors said his claims of hallucinations and harm were likely an attempt to feign mental incompetence. Courts prohibit the execution of people who do not understand why they are being punished.

Officials said earlier psychological evaluations showed no evidence of delusions or hallucinations, and that claims about such didn't start until he was charged.

Ochoa lost a late attempt at having his execution postponed when the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday denied his request for a stay. A federal appeals court on Monday rejected arguments that Ochoa was mentally unfit to be executed and a challenge to the state's procedure for determining sanity, reported AP.

Prosecutors said there was little evidence to suggest a motive for the killing, but no doubt that Ochoa and his co-defendant, Osbaldo Torres, 37, were responsible. Ochoa and Torres were stopped by police near the crime scene and were described by police as "sweating and nervous," court records show.

Torres, a Mexican citizen, was also convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in the shootings, but his sentence was reduced by then-Gov. Brad Henry in 2004. Henry imposed a sentence of life without parole after Mexican government officials raised concerns that Torres was not given a chance to speak with the Mexican consulate after being accused, as required by international conventions.

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