On Wednesday, Ruben Ramirez Cardenas, 47 was given a lethal injection for the 1997 murder of his 16-year-old cousin Mayra Laguna.
He is the seventh inmate executed in Texas this year.
According to court records, Cardenas confessed after 22 hours of interrogation telling police he "snuck into his cousin’s room through an open window early on a February morning and then kidnapped, raped and killed her before leaving her body near a canal."
Cardenas' attorneys filed a last ditch appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court hours before his execution arguing that his civil rights were being violated because Texas officials refused to release evidence for new DNA testing.
According to the appeal, the method of DNA testing used during his initial trial is now obsolete and left "persistent doubts about his guilt and the integrity of his conviction" and in another appeal claimed Cardenas was coerced into a false confession after hours of intense interrogation from Texas investigators.
In response to the appeal, the prosecution released a statement countering the defenses claim of a false confession:
“An independently corroborated confession, one that contains information unknown to the police and known only to someone involved, is extraordinarily strong evidence of guilt,” wrote Michael Morris, Hidalgo County’s assistant criminal district attorney.
The court rejected both appeals without comment.
In a handwritten statement released after his death, Cardenas thanked his family, attorneys and the Mexican consulate for their help but said he would be back for justice.
"Now! I will not and cannot apologize for someone else's crime, but, I will be Back for Justice," he wrote. "You can count on that!"
Cardenas grew up in the Texas Rio Grande Valley but because he was born in Mexico - which does not have capital punishment - he was eligible for legal help from the Mexican consulate at the time of his arrest.
The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 is an international treaty between 179 countries. Key provisions of the agreement include:
“Article 36. Foreign nationals who are arrested or detained be given notice "without delay" of their right to have their embassy or consulate notified of that arrest. If the detained foreign national so requests, the police must fax that notice to the embassy or consulate, which can then check up on the person. The notice to the consulate can be as simple as a fax, giving the person's name, the place of arrest, and, if possible, something about the reason for the arrest or detention.”
In 2004, the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that the United States had violated international law by not notifying Mexican authorities of the arrest of 51 national, including Cardenas, and said each of the cases needed to be reviewed.
"For the Mexican government, capital punishment constitutes one of the most essential violations of human rights” Jacob Prado Gonzalez, the Mexican government's general director for consular protection said during a press conference in Mexico City on Monday.
In March 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that the ICJ’s decision was not binding domestic law, which is why Texas ignored both the UN and the Mexican government's request.
Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, the Mexican consul general in Texas told Reuters he was disappointed with the U.S government's decision.
"For the government of Mexico this is not an issue about culpability or innocence, but about respect for human rights and due process."
Expreso mi firme condena a la ejecución del mexicano Rubén Cárdenas Ramírez en Texas, que viola decisión de la Corte Internacional de Justicia. Mi más sentido pésame a los deudos.— Enrique Peña Nieto (@EPN) November 9, 2017
On Thursday, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto condemned the execution in a tweet,
"I firmly condemn the execution of Ruben Cardenas Ramirez in Texas, which violates [the] ruling of the International Court of Justice.”
The victim's sister said in a statement released by prison officials that after 21 years, she felt justice had finally been served.
"Words can't begin describe the relief it feels to know that there is true peace after so much pain and sorrow," she said. "Mayra can be remembered as loving, caring, funny and dimples when she smiled. She will continue to watch over family and friends."
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