HUNTSVILLE, Texas (CBS/KHOU) Murderer Peter Anthony Cantu was executed by the state of Texas Tuesday evening.
He was the ringleader in a crime that struck a raw nerve for its sheer brutality: the repeated gang rape, torture and murder of 14-year-old Jennifer Ertman and 16-year-old Elizabeth Pena in 1993.
The lethal injection was performed at 6:09 p.m. By 6:17 p.m. Cantu was pronounced dead. He was 35 and had lived on death row longer than his victims were alive.
No one came to witness on Cantu's behalf when he received his lethal injection.
The girls' families came to witness the execution and were met by supporters and applause when they walked out of the Walls Unit.
"Why do I watch? For justice. For justice for my little girl," Elizabeth's father, Adolph Pena, said.
Houston was stunned when Cantu and his gang were arrested. Instead of remorse there was violence from Cantu. Cameras caught Cantu cuffed and escorted by two officers still trying to kick news photographers.
When he finally faced death, Cantu made no apology and had no statement.
Elizabeth's father said he was not surprised.
"Nothing he would say to me would make any difference," he said.
In June of 1993, the two girls stumbled across a gang initiation on White Oak Bayou. Six teenagers repeatedly raped, assaulted, then beat the girls to death, beyond recognition.
"Hopefully they'll find some peace. What would I tell them? We love them and miss them," Adolph Pena said.
During the trial, the Ertmans asked to address the court. An angry Randy Ertman stood at the trial and told the killers: "We live for the day you die. I hope you rot in hell."
But after the execution Tuesday things were different. The Ertmans left without saying a word. Randy Ertman's fiery red hair is gray, and now Cantu is dead.
Three of the Pena and Ertman killers have been executed. Three others have long prison terms. Two of them will come up for parole in 2028. The Ertmans and Penas are videotaping their protest for the parole board, in case they are not here in 18 years to protest in person.
For the families, it is a fight they will take beyond the grave.
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