News| Death Penalty | Did Texas Execute An Innocent Man?

News| Death Penalty | Did Texas Execute An Innocent Man?

Published February 11, 2008

Posted Nov. 23, 2005 – Did Texas execute the wrong man for a 1993 robbery-murder?  A prosecutor, the jury forewoman and even a victim in the case say "yes," The Houston Chronicle reported.

Ruben Cantu was 17 at the time he was accused by one witness for the murder of Pedro Gomez.  That eyewitness, Juan Moreno, who was wounded during the robbery, told The Chronicle that Cantu was not the murderer.

Moreno even failed to pick Cantu out of two police line-ups,   But in a third line-up, Moreno identified him.

Moreno told The Chronicle that police convinced him that Cantu was definitely the killer and that he testified based on that information.  "That was bad to blame someone that was not there," he told the newspaper.

Cantu was put to death by legal injection in 1993.  He was 26 and had no previous convictions.

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"We did the best we could with the information we had, but with a little extra work, a little extra effort, maybe we'd have gotten the right information," Miriam Ward, foreman of the jury told the newspaper. "The bottom line is an innocent person was put to death for it. We all have our finger in that."

The prosecutor in the case, Sam Millsap Jr., told The Houston Chronicle that he believes that police led Moreno to finger Cantu.

"We have a system that permits people to be convicted, based on evidence that could be wrong because it's mistaken or it's corrupt," the former Bexar County district attorney told the paper.

Texas executes more people than any other states.  Ann Richards (D-Texas), was governor at the time of Cantu's execution.

Generally speaking, do you believe the death penalty is applied fairly or unfairly in this country today?  Click on "Discuss Now" to talk about it!

Written by BET-Staff


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