A 38-year-old man who was convicted of killing the 12-year-old friend of his cousin in 1998 was executed in Huntsville, Texas, by lethal injection. He was pronounced dead at 6:35 p.m. Central time on Wednesday.
Pablo Lucio Vasquez had appealed for a stay of execution U.S. Supreme Court, but roughly four hours before his execution was scheduled to take place at 6 p.m., the petition was declined.
The condemned man's last words, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesperson Jason Clark, were, “I just want to tell my family thank you ... I am sorry to David’s family. This is only way that I can be forgiven. You got your justice right here."
He added, "My trust is in Jesus.”
Vasquez was convicted of killing David Cardenas, a boy he and his 15-year-old cousin, Andres Rafael Chapa, attended a party with.
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Drunk and high, Vasquez started hearing voices telling him to kill the seventh grader as they approached a wood shed, he would later tell detectives. He struck him in the back of the neck with a pipe and then slit his throat.
A transcript of his videotaped confession in 1998 shows Vasquez saying that he then “picked him up and dragged him, and he was still saying something, and I picked him up in the air.”
“The blood was dripping and [I] got it all over my face, so I don’t know. I mean, something just told me drink.”
“You drink. You drink what?” the detective, Ricardo Suarez, asked him.
“His blood,” Vasquez answered. “I don’t know. I mean, my face was covered in blood, and I put him down because I felt weird.”
Vasquez's lawyer, James Keegan, had asked the Supreme Court to stop the punishment so the justices can consider arguments that several potential jurors were excluded improperly at Vasquez's 1999 trial.
As recently as March, appeals courts rejected arguments that Vasquez is mentally ill and should be exempt from the death penalty.
His execution is the 11th in the country this year; six of those have occurred in Texas.
Eighteen years ago this month, Cardenas, who lived with his sister about five miles from Donna, was spending the weekend with Vasquez's cousin, Chapa. Both went to a party on April 18, and were seen rolling marijuana cigarettes; Vasquez also attended.
Police received an anonymous tip about the slaying that led them to Chapa and eventually to Vasquez, who was arrested in Conroe, a Houston suburb more than 325 miles north of Donna. Authorities found the body — missing some limbs — five days later under some scraps of aluminum in a vacant field. A blood trail showed it was dragged to the site, including crossing a four-lane street.
"They decided they were going to try to take his head off with a shovel and didn't realize that it was a lot more difficult to cut someone's head off," Joseph Orendain, the lead trial prosecutor, recalled last week. "It was a mutilated body left behind ... It was really horrendous."
Vasquez, who said he took a gold ring and necklace from Cardenas, told police that Chapa also participated in trying to decapitate the boy. "The devil was telling me to take (the head) away from him," Vasquez said, adding that, "It couldn't come off."
Chapa pleaded guilty to a murder charge for his involvement and is serving a 35-year prison term. Three other relatives of Chapa and Vasquez received probation and a small fine for helping cover up the slaying. One of them was deported to Guatemala.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.