Texas Executes Ivan Cantu Despite Innocence Claims

The state of Texas executed inmate Ivan Cantu on Wednesday (Feb. 28) for the November 2000 murders of his cousin and his cousin’s fiancé. The 50-year-old maintained his innocence from his arrest until his death.

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Cantu was put to death at 6:47 p.m. by lethal injection according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. CNN reports that Cantu stated he was innocent of murdering James Mosqueda, his cousin, and nursing student Amy Kitchen during his final statement.

“I’d like to address the Kitchens and Mosqueda families. I want you to know that I never killed James and Amy,” Cantu calmly stated. “And if I did, if I knew who did, you would’ve been the first to know any information I would’ve had that would’ve helped to bring justice to James and Amy.”

The execution was witnessed by Kitchen’s brother, her sister-in-law, a family friend, and three journalists. Cantu did not request to have family or friends present, although his spiritual advisor and anti-death penalty activist, Sister Helen Prejean was present. Prejean whispered into his ear and held Cantu’s hand before he said his final words.

Graczyk noted Cantu “didn’t sound bitter, he didn’t sound irate” as he spoke. Instead, “he just insisted he was innocent.”

Michael Graczyk, a media witness for the Associated Press, claimed Cantu appeared to be in “pretty good spirits” before the execution.

According to a TDCJ spokesperson, Cantu passed away about 21 minutes after receiving the lethal injection.

Efforts To Halt Execution Of Ivan Cantu Went Nowhere

Courts have been “comprehensively reviewing” his case for over two decades. Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis believes Ivan was “finally met with justice.”

“My hopeful prayer is for the victims’ families, friends, and loved ones to find a long-awaited sense of peace,” Willis stated.

However, Ivan’s mother, Sylvia Cantu, disagrees with the prosecutor. She insists her son did not commit the heinous crimes.

“It’s a hard thing to accept,” she said about her son dying before her. “But if I would have it different, I’d trade my life for Ivan’s. Take me, not him.”

Those who championed Cantu’s release, including three of his trial jurors requested the execution be stopped to allow additional time for new evidence to be reviewed. Moreover, the convicted murderer wanted an opportunity to argue that he was denied a free trial and framed by the actual killers. Cantu stated his conviction was based on false testimony.

The night prior to his execution, a federal appeals court refused to intervene. That followed another rejection earlier in the week by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to halt his execution.

Gena Bunn, Cantu’s attorney, did not appeal the case to the US Supreme Court, asserting Tuesday night’s judgment by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals revealed his legal team “could not find a viable path forward.”

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles could have voted to commute Cantu’s sentence or a 120-day reprieve but did not. Additionally, Governor Greg Abbot possessed the power to grant a 30-day postponement but refused.

Kim Kardashian & Martin Sheen Speak Out On Behalf Of Ivan

SKIMS CEO Kim Kardashian and actor Martin Sheen publicly advocated for Cantu’s release.

However, earlier this week, Kim accidentally shared a photo of another Ivan A. Cantu, a project manager in NYC, to her Instagram.

According to Y! Entertainment, the mistaken Ivan stated, To all my friends and family, I am not getting executed, some idiot who runs @kimkardashian [socials] used my picture instead of Ivan ‘Abner’ Cantu,” he typed in a Facebook post on Monday (Feb. 26) that has been since-deleted.

Kardashian took to her InstaStories on Monday to apologize for the mishap.

“A wrong image of Mr. Cantu was posted earlier today and I would like to apologize to the person whose [sic] image was used in error.”

The reality star also attempted to appeal to Governor Abbott, urging him “to use his power to allow time” for evaluation ofnew evidence in Ivan’s case. However, that last-ditch effort didn’t land.

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