A Mexican-born killer was executed Thursday amid protests from foreign countries that say he was denied his right under an international treaty to contact the Mexican consulate after his arrest.
About five hours before Miguel Flores was strapped to a chamber gurney to receive a lethal injection, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, denied his request for a reprieve.
Earlier this week, both the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused to halt the execution, the 35th this year in the nation's most active death penalty state.
Flores, 31, was condemned to die for abducting, raping and stabbing to death 20-year-old Angela Marie Tyson as she left her summer job at a video store in 1989.
When Flores was arrested, he was not allowed to contact the Mexican consulate as called for under the Vienna Convention of Consular Relations, his backers argued.
"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.
Roy Carper, who prosecuted Flores, countered: "There's no dispute that wasn't done. But Mr. Flores claimed to be a U.S. citizen, and that would knock out anything the Mexican government has to do about it."
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 Gov. George W. Bush and the parole board.
The State Department has said that even if there was a failure to inform Flores, it was not sufficient cause to overturn the sentence.
U.S. courts have denied similar claims in other cases where such a violation of international law is alleged. At least two other Mexicans and one Canadian in recent years have been put to death in Texas.
Twenty Mexican nationals, and one national each from Bangladesh, Thailand and Cambodia are on Texas' death row now.
Flores was born in Juarez, Mexico, but raised across the Rio Grande in El Paso, where he graduated from high school.
Flores' supporters also criticized testimony from a psychiatrist who concluded Flores would be a danger to society one factor a jury considers in deciding on the death penalty without meeting the defendant.
Article 36 of the Vienna Convention states: "If he so requests, the competent authorities of the receiving State shall, without delay, inform the consular post of the sending State if, within its consular district, a national of that State is arrested or committed to prison or to custody pending trial or is detained in any other manner."
Flores was the 234th person executed by Texas since 1982. Six more executions are sheduled before the end of the year.
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