Published January 14, 2015
A man who crawled through the window of a San Antonio home and fatally stabbed his former next-door neighbor as her oldest child tried to defend her was executed Wednesday.
Luis Salazar, 38, thanked friends and relatives for praying for him and asked to be forgiven for the "sins that I can remember" as the lethal drugs began taking effect. He was pronounced dead at 6:20 p.m., nine minutes after the injection.
Salazar was the second condemned murderer put to death in Texas in as many nights and the 12th to die this year in the nation's busiest capital punishment state.
Salazar testified at his trial that after a night of drinking and using marijuana and cocaine, he thought he was in his own house on Oct. 11, 1997, and that Martha Sanchez, 28, and her three children were intruders.
Evidence, however, showed the telephone wires at the home next-door to where Salazar once lived had been cut and Sanchez's injuries indicated Salazar had tried to rape her before she was stabbed. Salazar denied cutting the phone lines or the attempted rape.
Sanchez's screams woke her 10-year-old son, Erick, and he tried to defend his mother from the knife-wielding intruder. He was stabbed in the chest as his mother yelled at him to run outside and get help.
The woman's 2-year-old daughter was asleep in the same bed and her 6-month-old son was in a nearby crib. A neighbor testified at the trial that she changed the clothes of the 2-year-old, who was covered in her mother's blood.
Salazar called police later that day and said he wanted to surrender.
Salazer's criminal history includes a guilty plea for a misdemeanor sexual attack on an 18-year-old mentally disabled high school student four years before the murder. He also had been on probation for holding up convenience stores.
His trial lawyer, Richard Langlois, said the previous convictions were difficult to overcome in the minds of jurors who had been asked to spare Salazar's life because he had an abusive childhood.
Bert Richardson, the former Bexar County assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case, said Salazar had "a violent history." Testimony showed that he had made sexual passes at Sanchez, whose husband had helped Salazar get a job. Her husband was at work on the night of the slaying.
On Tuesday night, a Fort Worth man was executed for gunning down his former girlfriend and her friend more than eight years ago.