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Texas Executes Mexican Man For 1997 Murder

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Texas Department of Criminal Justice photo of Ruben Ramirez Cardenas [AP] Texas Department of Criminal Justice photo of Ruben Ramirez Cardenas [AP]
HUNTSVILLE, Texas -

A Mexican citizen on death row in Texas was executed Wednesday night for the slaying of his 16-year-old cousin who was abducted from her family's apartment and fatally beaten.

Ruben Ramirez Cardenas, 47, was given a lethal injection after several federal court appeals failed to halt his punishment for the February 1997 killing of Mayra Laguna.

Asked by the warden to make a final statement, he replied, "No, sir."

As the lethal dose of pentobarbital began, he took a couple of breaths and then began snoring. After less than a minute, all movement stopped.

Twenty-one minutes later, at 10:26 p.m. CST, he was pronounced dead, making him the seventh convicted killer put to death this year in Texas, which carries out capital punishment more than any other state.

Shortly after the execution, Mexican President Enrique Nieto tweeted, "I express my firm condemnation of the execution of the Mexican Rubén Cárdenas Ramírez in Texas, which violates the decision of the International Court of Justice. My deepest condolences to the mourners."

Cardenas' attorney, Maurie Levin, contended eyewitness testimony against Cardenas was shaky, that little physical evidence tied him to the killing and that a confession he gave was obtained after 22 hours of isolation and intense police questioning.

She also said that authorities acted improperly when not telling the Mexican-born Cardenas that he could get legal help from the Mexican consulate.

Being born in Mexico, which does not have capital punishment, made Cardenas eligible for legal help from the Mexican consulate when he was arrested, according to provisions of the Vienna Convention of Consular Relations, which is a 1963 international agreement. The courts have allowed executions to move forward in several previous Texas death row cases in which the agreement was said to have been violated.

"For the Mexican government, capital punishment constitutes one of the most essential violations of human rights," Jacob Prado Gonzalez, the Mexican government's general director for consular protection, said.

Cardenas grew up in the Texas Rio Grande Valley.

In a handwritten statement released afterward, Cardenas thanked his family, attorneys and the Mexican consulate for their help.

"Now! I will not and cannot apologize for someone else's crime, but, I will be Back for Justice," he wrote. "You can count on that!"

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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