The 24th Execution of 2015
A Texas man, Licho Escamilla, was put to death on October 14, 2015 for the 2001 murder of Christopher Kevin James who was trying to break up a brawl involving Escamilla. The 33-year-old prisoner was pronounced dead at 6:31 p.m. CDT — 18 minutes after the lethal injection began, according to The Associated Press.
Before dying, Escamilla looked at the slain officer's daughter, who was seated a few feet away watching through a window, and told her: "God bless your heart."
He turned to his relatives watching through another window and said he loved them and everyone who supported him.
"Pope Francis, God's children has asked the state of Texas to switch my death sentence to life in prison," he said. "But the state of Texas has refused to listen to God's children.
"They will have to take that up with God," he added.
He took two breaths as the sedative pentobarbital took effect, then became still. His sister cried and screamed for God not to take him.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review his case last week and no additional appeals were filed as his execution neared. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles on Monday decided against a reprieve and clemency.
James and three other uniformed officers were working off-duty when the brawl started. Escamilla pulled out a gun and opened fire on the officers as they tried to end the fight.
The bullets from his 9 mm semi-automatic handgun struck James twice, knocking him to the ground. Escamilla then calmly walked up to the officer and fired three more shots into the back of his head before running and exchanging shots with other officers, witnesses said. A second officer wounded in the shootout survived.
Escamilla's trial attorneys told jurors he was responsible for James' slaying but argued it didn't merit a death sentence because James wasn't officially on duty, meaning the crime didn't qualify as a capital murder.
He was sentenced to death in October 2002. At his trial in Dallas, Escamilla grabbed a water pitcher off the defense table and threw it at the jury as the judge was reading his sentence.
Escamilla also started kicking and hitting people and hid under the table until he was subdued by deputies who triggered an electronic stun belt he was wearing.
Testimony showed Escamilla bragged to emergency medical technicians who were treating his wounds that he had killed an officer and injured another and that he'd be out of jail in 48 hours. He also admitted to the slaying during a television interview from jail.
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