HUNTSVILLE, Texas – Michael Sigala was on probation for robbery and allowed to leave a Dallas-area substance abuse treatment center for the day to look for a job. Instead, he violently ended the lives of a newlywed Brazilian couple and ended up on death row.
Sigala, 32, was set for execution Tuesday evening for the death of Kleber Santos, 28, a Brazilian engineer whose wife also was killed in an attack nearly a decade ago at their Plano apartment.
Sigala would be the third Texas inmate to receive lethal injection this year and the first of four scheduled to die this month in the nation's most active death penalty state.
The U.S. Supreme Court last week refused to review his case and no new appeals were in the courts Monday.
Sigala, of Plano, was condemned for the fatal shooting of Santos, whose job brought him to Texas in January 2000, a month after he was married. His wife, Lilian, remained in Brazil to continue her veterinary studies at the University of Sao Paulo and was visiting her husband during a school break that August.
Evidence showed the 25-year-old woman was raped and also fatally shot several hours after her husband was killed. Their wedding rings were among items taken in the attack. Sigala also was charged with her slaying but was not tried.
Their bodies were found by a neighbor after Santos failed to show up at work as a software developer for a cellphone manufacturer in nearby Richardson. His wife's hands were tied with telephone wire. A phone cord also was around her neck.
"It was pretty sad, especially when you think of your husband being killed in front of you, then you're dragged off, your clothes taken off, being tied up and who knows what," Debbie Harrison, a Collin County assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case, said last week.
Sigala was arrested about two months later after a camera taken from the apartment was found at a pawn shop in Arlington, some 30 miles (48 kilometers) to the southwest. That led investigators to the couple's wedding rings, which had been pawned in Dallas.
Another convict, Adam Lay, was implicated in the pawning of the stolen items but not charged in the slayings. He received 35 years in prison for violating probation from a previous aggravated robbery conviction and doesn't become eligible for parole for another eight years.