USA - Texas. Ivan Cantu, 50, White, executed

USA - Ivan Cantu (TX)

29 February 2024 :

28/02/2024 - Texas. Ivan Cantu, 50, White, executed.
Ivan Abner Cantu maintained his innocence and garnered support from celebrities asking for his life to be spared.
Cantu’s execution — the first one carried out in Texas this year — comes more than two decades after he was convicted in a fatal shooting in 2000. Yet, his advocates long pleaded for Cantu to have another day in court — claiming that prosecutorial and defense misconduct, the discovery of physical evidence and a witness’s admission to lying during the trial should have warranted a pause to the execution.
Cantu’s case drew the attention of celebrities Kim Kardashian and Martin Sheen, as well as U.S. Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.), all of whom supported Cantu.
Despite mounting doubts about his guilt, Cantu was executed at 6:47 Central time on Wednesday in Huntsville by lethal injection, in a small room known as the death chamber, with its seafoam-green walls and gurney with restraints.
Cantu’s execution was most recently stayed in April. At that time, two of the jurors who convicted Cantu had submitted declarations with doubts about the case.
On Tuesday, both the Texas appeals court and a federal appeals court denied Cantu’s requests for a stay.
On Wednesday, Cantu’s attorney, Gena Bunn, said she would not submit a final appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.
Cantu was convicted in 2001 of shooting and killing his cousin, 27-year-old James Mosqueda, and Mosqueda’s fiancée, 22-year-old Amy Kitchen, at their home on Nov. 4, 2000.
Prosecutors claim Cantu killed the pair while trying to steal drugs and cash from Mosqueda, who was a drug dealer, and Kitchen. Cantu has claimed that a rival drug dealer killed the two over money.
Amy Boettcher, Cantu’s girlfriend at the time, testified that he stole and later got rid of Mosqueda’s Rolex, but Cantu’s attorney said the watch was later found by Mosqueda’s family. (The watch was photographed by private investigator Matt Duff, who has since released a podcast about the case, “Cousins by Blood.”) Boettcher also told jurors that Cantu proposed to her the night of the killings with an engagement ring he stole from Kitchen, but Cantu’s attorney wrote in court filings that witnesses claim the couple had announced their engagement and showed off the ring a week before the killings.
Boettcher also testified that Cantu threw his bloodied clothes inside a trash can on the night of the killings. Yet, Cantu’s attorneys have long questioned that claim — saying in court records that a police officer who went to the apartment the next day had not seen the clothes, which were not discovered until several days later.
In 2009, testing on the clothing could not conclusively show that Cantu’s DNA was on them.
Jeff Boettcher, Amy’s brother, testified that Cantu had said he planned to kill Mosqueda. But Jeff Boettcher told a district attorney investigator in 2022 that he “lied” and, according to court documents, was not a credible witness because of his history of drug abuse.
Defense attorneys wrote that prosecutors “failed to disclose impeachment evidence that could have been used to impugn the credibility” of Amy Boettcher, who at the time attorneys said admitted to being a daily drug user. Attorneys also argue that her brother Jeff’s admission he lied on the stand means Cantu was denied due process.
Kardashian, who has taken to clemency work in recent years, pushed for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to issue a 30-day reprieve for Cantu.
“Urge him to use his power to allow time for new evidence in Ivan’s case to be evaluated, lest Texas execute a wrongfully convicted man,” she tweeted Wednesday to her 75 million followers.
Sheen and anti-capital-punishment activist Sister Helen Prejean appeared on CNN to make their case for saving Cantu.
In addition to high profile supporters, three jurors who convicted the man had advocated for a stay of execution in Cantu’s case.
Jeff Calhoun, foreman of the jury that convicted Cantu in 2001, told the Texas Tribune that the Boettchers’ testimony was the most impactful to the jury. So the fact that there is serious doubt being cast upon their testimony sparked him to call on Abbott to pause and investigate.
By Wednesday, a petition asking for Cantu’s life to be spared had garnered more than 150,000 signatures as social media flooded with posts pleading with Abbott for clemency — including from the European Union’s ambassador to the United States Jovita Neliupšienė.
Abbott — Cantu’s last hope for reprieve — did not intervene on his behalf.
On Wednesday morning, Cantu was transported from the Polunsky Unit in Livingston to the Huntsville Unit — a 44-mile trek. Once there, he stayed in a holding cell until 6 p.m., when he was walked to the execution chamber. As witnesses looked through a window to see Cantu take his last breath, the 50-year-old maintained his innocence while he addressed the Kitchen and Mosqueda families, adding he did not believe his execution would bring the families any closure or peace.
Cantu then thanked his mother, family, friends and supporters. Sister Prejean was by his side as the lethal injection began coursing through his veins. Cantu’s death was announced by officials at 6.47pm CT.
Cantu was the first man executed in Texas this year, the 587th overall since Texas resumed capital punishment in 1982, the 2nd in the U.S. put to death this year, and the 1,584th overall since the country resumed executions in 1977.


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