On Wednesday at the state prison in Huntsville, Jose Villegas became the seventh Texas inmate executed this year, 13 years after the stabbing deaths of his ex-girlfriend, her son, and her mother in Corpus Christi.
Villegas was pronounced dead at 7:04 p.m. local time, 11 minutes after the lethal dose of the sedative began, The Associated Press reported
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The execution came after Villegas' attorney failed to convince the U.S. Supreme Court that he was mentally impaired and not eligible for the death penalty.
"I would like to remind my children once again I love them," Villegas said before he was put to death, wrote the AP. "Everything is OK. I love you all, and I love my children. I am at peace."
Jurors convicted Villegas, 39, of killing Erida Salazar, 23, her 3-year-old son Jacob, and Salazar's mother Alma Perez, 51, in January 2001. All three of their bodies, stabbed at least 19 times each, were discovered by Salazar's father.
At the time of the crime, Villegas was free on bond for a sexual assault charge and was slated for trial the day of the deaths for an incident in which a woman said he punched her in the face.
Villegas' attorney argued that Villegas' IQ fell below 70 and that made his execution illegal, but the Supreme Court denied the effort to postpone the execution.
The Texas attorney general's office fought the IQ finding, the AP said, charging that Villegas showed no mental impairment in previous examinations and the number cited in his appeal was based on tests after the court set his execution date, giving him no incentive to do well on it.
In the past, courts also have accepted scientific studies that consider a 70 IQ a threshold for impairment and the Supreme Court is examining a Florida law stipulating that number for death penalty eligibility. Villegas scored a 59.
Villegas became the third Texas inmate executed with a new stock of pentobarbital from a provider that state corrections officials have refused to identify.
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