HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) â€” The scheduled execution of a Mexican-born convicted killer has spurred protests from foreign governments and demonstrations by death penalty opponents who contend his rights under foreign treaties were violated.
Miguel Flores was set to die by injection Thursday evening for raping and killing a 20-year-old college student in 1989 after following her as she left her job at a video store.
The Texas parole board and an appeals court have refused to halt the execution. An appeal is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
His attorney said when Flores was arrested, he was not allowed to contact Mexican consulate officials as called for under the Vienna Convention of Consular Relations.
``We firmly believe that timely assistance from the Mexican consulate would have meant the difference between life and death for Miguel Flores,'' attorney Richard Ellis said.
``There's no dispute that wasn't done,'' said Roy Carper, who prosecuted Flores. ``But Mr. Flores claimed to be a U.S. citizen, and that would knock out anything the Mexican government has to do about it.''
U.S. courts have denied similar claims in other cases where such a violation of international law is alleged. And the State Department has said even if there was a failure to inform Flores, it is not sufficient cause to overturn the sentence.
Flores, 31, was born in Juarez, Mexico, but raised across the Rio Grande River in El Paso, Texas, where he graduated from high school.
He admits abducting Angela Marie Tyson as she left her summer job at a Borger video store June 28, 1989, raping and fatally stabbing her. Her body was found early the next day in her car.
Flores, who was living in Borger where his grandparents lived, went to police when he learned they were looking for him. He had been a customer at the video store that evening and authorities determined he had been a frequent customer particularly on nights when the Eastern New Mexico University student was working.
``I'm very sorry for what I did,'' Flores said recently from death row. ``I don't feel I got a fair sentencing trial. If I had gotten a fair trial and the jury returned the death sentence, I can accept that. I'm asking for a life sentence, not to be released.''
The Mexican government wrote Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the execution. The French and Swedish ambassadors to the United States, as well as the European Union, made similar pleas to Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
Similar efforts were unsuccessful in other cases where foreign-born death row inmates faced execution. At least two other Mexicans and one Canadian in recent years have been put to death in Texas.
The execution would be the 35th this year in the nation's most active death penalty state and the second so far this month. Three more are set for next week.