HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A Texas man convicted of strangling a 5-year-old girl who was taken from a Walmart store nearly 22 years ago and burning her body was executed Thursday night.
David Renteria, 53, was pronounced dead at 7:11 pm CST following an injection at the Huntsville State Penitentiary for the murder of Alexandra Flores. Renteria prayed, sang and asked for forgiveness before his execution.
“I regret all the mistakes I have made. And to those who have asked for my death, who are about to murder me, I forgive you,” he said to those present in a loud and clear voice. He was pronounced dead 11 minutes later after receiving a lethal dose of pentobarbital, a powerful sedative.
Renteria sang a hymn in Spanish, then prayed with a spiritual advisor standing at his side and sang another hymn in English after witnesses, including relatives of his victim, entered the death chamber and watched through a window at some meters from him.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the fateful events of that day and what happened,” he said, looking at his victim’s relatives. “There are no words to describe what you’re going through and I understand.”
He told his sister and a friend, who was watching him from another window, that he was “fine…strong.”
“I love you all, really. I will see you in the next life.”
He then began to recite the Lord’s Prayer as the drugs began to flow. “Our Father, who art in heaven” is all that came. “I’ll try it,” she said of the drug, muttered something, took two deep breaths and snored twice before all movement ceased.
Ignacio and Sandra Frausto held a collage of photographs of their murdered sister, the baby of eight children in their family, as they spoke to reporters after watching Rentería die.
“I want to recognize her, not forget her,” Ignacio Frausto said between sobs. “22 years passed but the time has come. It does. “We can finally start to truly heal: 22 years of wondering what was going to happen.”
Prosecutors said Flores was at the El Paso store on Nov. 18, 2001, during a Christmas shopping trip, when she was kidnapped from the store, strangled and her body burned. Her body was found the next day in an alley about 25 kilometers away.
Renteria’s execution took place after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected two separate requests for a stay of defense earlier that day.
One request arose from efforts by Renteria’s attorneys to gain access to evidence that they said could have shown he was not responsible for her death. Another appeal rejected by the high court without comment Thursday night focused on claims that the state’s supply of pentobarbital, the execution drug, had degraded and would cause him “terror” and “severe pain,” in violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. .
Authorities said evidence showed that Renteria, a convicted sex offender, carried out the kidnapping and murder alone and that his attorneys did not raise that defense at his trial. Blood found in Rentería’s truck matched the murdered girl’s DNA, according to prosecutors, who added that her palm print was found on a plastic bag placed over the girl’s head before the car was set on fire. body.
Renteria was accused of patrolling the store for about 40 minutes before zeroing in on the 5-year-old girl. Grainy surveillance video showed her following Renteria out of the store.
The execution was one of two carried out Thursday in the United States. In Alabama, an inmate Casey McWhorter He received a lethal injection Thursday night on a murder conviction for fatally shooting a man during a 1993 robbery.
Renteria had long claimed that members of a gang called Barrio Azteca, including a person who used the nickname “Flaco,” forced him to take the girl by threatening her family, and that it was the gang members who killed her.
In August, state District Judge Monique Reyes in El Paso granted a request to stay the execution and ordered prosecutors to turn over case files. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals later overturned Reyes’ orders.
In 2006, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned Renteria’s death sentence, saying prosecutors provided misleading evidence that gave jurors the impression that Renteria was unrepentant.
During a new trial of new sentence in 2008Renteria was again sentenced to death.
Renteria was the eighth inmate executed in Texas this year. There have been 23 executions in the United States this year, including two carried out on Thursday.