The 9th Execution of 2015
Manuel Vasquez a hit man for a Mexican Mafia gang was executed was declared dead on March 11, 2015 at 6:32 p.m., 17 minutes after a lethal dose of pentobarbital was released through an IV into his arm, reported the Texas Tribune.
He was sentenced to death for his role in the murder of Juanita Ybarra, 51, who had refused to pay gang members a 10 percent street tax on illegal drugs she was selling.
Asked if he had a last statement, Vasquez, strapped onto a gurney, looked straight up at the ceiling and uttered a brief one.
"I want to say 'I love you' to all my family and friends. Thank you, Lord for your mercy and unconditional love. In Jesus' name I pray, amen," Vasquez said. His sister, Mary Helen Vasquez, cried loudly as she watched her brother take about two dozen breaths before becoming unconscious.
She declined to make any statement following the execution.
In 1999, jurors convicted Vasquez after hearing how he, Johnny Joe Cruz and Oligario Lujan, broke into Ybarra's motel room and beat up her boyfriend before turning on Ybarra, who Vasquez strangled with a telephone cord. Prosecutors say Ybarra was killed after refusing to pay a street tax to the gang.
The trio robbed the couple of their valuables and left.
According to court records, the three were working for Mexican Mafia boss Rene Munoz, who was on the Texas Department of Public Safety's 10 Most Wanted List until his 2012 arrest. Cruz took a plea deal and served seven years. Lujan is serving a 35-year prison term.
Court records show Vasquez had a history of violence. He received a 10-year prison sentence for his role in the 1986 death of Robert Alva, who was beaten, choked and set on fire.
The execution of Vasquez leaves the Texas Department of Criminal Justice with enough pentobarbital — the drug it uses for lethal injections — for one more execution, unless a new supply of the drug is found. Six more executions are scheduled between now and mid-May.
Jason Clark, spokesman for TDCJ declined to elaborate specifically on what options the state's prison system is considering if a new pentobarbital source is not found.
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