COURT sets August 30 execution date for Valdez

Thursday, August 2nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals set an Aug. 30 execution date Wednesday for Mexican national Gerardo Valdez, whose request for clemency was denied by Gov. Frank Keating.

In setting the date, the court rejected arguments by Valdez's attorney, Robert A. Nance of Oklahoma City, that Valdez could not be legally executed before Sept. 18.

Nance said Valdez's execution should be scheduled no earlier than 60 days from the date of the order that dissolved a stay of execution that Keating had granted to the condemned inmate.

The stay expired on July 20 when Keating denied Valdez's request for clemency.

Nance did not immediately return telephone calls.

Valdez, 41, had been scheduled to die by lethal injection on June 19 for the April 1, 1989, murder of 26-year-old Juan Trinidad Barron in Valdez's home in Minco.

But Keating granted a 30-day reprieve to consider a recommendation by the state Pardon and Parole Board that his death sentence be commuted.

Mexican officials, including President Vicente Fox, said Valdez's rights were denied when he was not given access to the Mexican consulate following his arrest, contrary to provisions of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

The Mexican government did not learn of Valdez's case until April 19 _ 11 years after he was sentenced to death. Mexican officials said the outcome of Valdez's trial would have been different had he been represented by Mexican consular officials.

The Mexican government also alleged that Valdez's court-appointed attorney was ``ill-equipped and unprepared'' to handle the case and that Valdez suffers from organic brain damage due to a head injury.

Keating conceded the Mexican national's rights were violated under international law, but said that did not affect the trial's outcome or Valdez's death sentence.

Valdez met the victim in an Anadarko bar where both men were drinking, according to Edmondson. Valdez, Barron and another man traveled to Valdez's home, where Valdez accused Barron of being a homosexual and threatened to kill him.

Valdez shot Barron twice in the forehead, then slit Barron's throat with a large knife, Edmondson said. Valdez and the other man took Barron's body as well as a sofa and carpet from the house and burned them.

Valdez later confessed to friends and authorities. He testified that he killed Barron because Barron propositioned him.