Texas is a state that is known for carrying out capital punishment, probably more than any other state in the nation. Because this type of punishment is permanent, and not something that can simply be reversed, it usually takes awhile to move forward with the actual execution. After more than 25 years, a man was finally executed at a Texas prison on February 16, 2016, which is the third execution already this year.
Crime that caused the punishment
Every crime committed usually doesn’t go without punishment, and Gustavo Garcia received the biggest sentence of all. He was sentenced to death for a murder that took place in 1990. During a liquor store robbery in the Dallas area, Garcia shot and killed 43-year-old Craig Turski. There was another robbery and killing where Garcia was linked occurring when Garcia was just 18 years of age. He fatally shot another store clerk in the back of the head. Gregory Martin, who was on the phone with his girlfriend before the robbery, warned her to call the police. Upon arrival, they found Garcia hiding in a cooler with the same gun used in the Turski shooting. At the time, another accomplice helped Garcia, 15-year-old Christopher Vargas. Because he was considered a minor at the time of the shooting he was ineligible for the death sentence, but was tried as an adult, receiving a hefty life in prison sentence.
Years spent in prison
Garcia spent over 25 years in prison before his death sentence was carried out. During this time, Garcia tried to escape prison, alongside five other death row inmates. In November of 1998, they tried to scale the 10-foot-high prison fences. Once officers spotted them trying to escape they began firing their guns at the prisoners, who surrendered their escape. One of the prisoners was actually shot, but was able to flee from the prison, only to be found dead nearby a week later. Clearly Garcia knew that facing the death sentence was pretty terrifying and he even admitted in an interview that at least he made an attempt to escape, even though he failed. An appeal was made in 2000, which actually overturned Garcia’s death sentence, but after a second punishment trial, he was back on death row.
No to any final appeals
Attorneys for Garcia did not make any final attempts to appeal the execution due to the Supreme Court’s refusal to rehear an appeal. A federal judge also would not postpone the execution and the Texas parole board rejected a clemency petition. Garcia was sentenced to death through lethal injection at the age of 43.
Last words from Garcia and victim families
Although none of his relatives made it to the execution, Garcia’s last words included his love for family and his mother. The lethal injection traveled throughout his system, taking a total of 16 minutes to kick in. Turski’s family members were not at Garcia’s execution, but Martin’s sister and brother-in-law were there to witness the death to a person who killed their family member. There are several other Texas inmates sitting on death row, and their sentences are scheduled in the next few months.