Condemned Texas inmate Samuel Bustamante was executed Tuesday evening for fatally stabbing an illegal immigrant from Mexico during an attempted robbery a dozen years ago.
Bustamante, 40, said nothing, shaking his head when asked by the warden if he wanted to make a final statement. He took several nearly inaudible breaths as the lethal drugs took effect, then slipped into unconsciousness as four female friends he invited to the death chamber watched.
Eight minutes later, at 6:22 p.m. CDT, he was pronounced dead, making him the seventh prisoner executed this year in the nation's most active death penalty state.
No friends or relatives of his victim were present.
Bustamante was convicted of the 1998 slaying of Rafael Alvarado, 27, a Mexican national in Fort Bend County, southwest of Houston, who became a target of what Bustamante and some of his friends called "shopping trips" where they would hunt illegal immigrants, then beat and rob them.
The punishment came about 90 minutes after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-ditch appeal from Bustamante's attorneys. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state's highest criminal court, had refused a similar appeal Monday. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles also declined a clemency request.
In a taped confession to detectives, Bustamante said he and three friends — Dedrick Depriest and brothers Walter and Arthur Escamilla, all from El Campo, about 70 miles southwest of Houston — spent the day in January 1998 eating and drinking. He said they decided to go "shopping" in Rosenberg, 40 miles to the northeast, as bars were closing at 2 a.m.
Alvarado, after leaving a Rosenberg bar, approached the pickup driven by Arthur Escamilla and offered to pay for a ride home to nearby Richmond.
Alvarado joined Walter Escamilla and Bustamante in the bed of the truck and they drove off. After a few minutes, Bustamante told officers, he pulled a knife and began stabbing Alvarado as Escamilla held him down. Alvarado managed to break free and bail out of the speeding truck.
Police following a trail of blood the next morning found Alvarado's body in a ditch. He'd been stabbed at least 10 times.
Two months later, with Bustamante jailed on an unrelated charge in Wharton County, authorities notified Rosenberg police after receiving a tip he was involved in Alvarado's slaying.
"I don't need a judge and I don't need a jury to tell me I'm guilty," Bustamante, a former oil field worker, told detectives.
At least nine other condemned Texas prisoners have execution dates approaching soon.
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