Court won't stop execution of Mexican national Edgar Tamayo

A woman holds up a sign showing a photo of Texas death-row inmate Edgar Tamayo that reads in Spanish "The town of Miacatlan offers you our support, Edgar Tamayo Arias" during a protest demanding Tamayo's pardon in his hometown of Miacatlan, Mexico.
Tony Rivera, AP

HUNTSVILLE, Texas – The state of Texas has opposed legal efforts and ignored diplomatic pressure as it plans to execute a Mexican national Wednesday evening, and now the defendant's attorneys are appealing the case to the Supreme Court, reports CBS Dallas/Fort Worth.

Edgar Arias Tamayo, 46,  was set for execution by lethal injection Wednesday evening for the murder of Guy Gaddis, 24, in January 1994.

Gaddis was driving Tamayo and another man from a robbery scene when evidence showed the young police officer was shot in the head and neck three times with a pistol Tamayo had hidden in his pants. Tamayo, still in handcuffs, fled on foot but was captured a few blocks away.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals considered an appeal that renewed an earlier contention that Tamayo was mentally impaired and therefore ineligible for execution. But the court said the appeal, which was filed last week, came too late.

Tamayo's attorneys are now taking their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. They also are appealing a judge's refusal on Tuesday to stop the Texas parole board from a clemency recommendation in Tamayo's case.

Secretary of State John Kerry said executing Tamayo "could impact the way American citizens are treated in other countries." The State Department previously asked Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to delay the punishment. 

However, Abbott's office and the Harris County district attorney would not agree to postpone the execution, which would be the state's first this year. Texas put 16 people to death in 2013.

The Mexican government released a statement this week saying it “strongly opposed” the planned execution and that failure to review Tamayo's case and reconsider would be “a clear violation by the United States of its international obligations.”

Mexican officials and Tamayo’s attorneys argue that legal assistance, guaranteed in a provision of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, could have uncovered evidence to contest the capital murder charge or provide evidence to spare Tamayo from death row.

“We are continuing to pursue our options for appeal, and vindication of Mr. Tamayo’s right to review of the consular rights violation in his case,” said Maurie Levin, one of Tamayo’s lawyers.

A judge rejected a lawsuit Tuesday by Tamayo’s attorneys, who appealed to a federal court in Austin for an injunction against Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

“It doesn’t matter where you’re from. If you commit a despicable crime like this in Texas, you are subject to our state laws, including a fair trial by jury and the ultimate penalty,” Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said.

Prison records show that Tamayo was in the U.S. illegally and had a criminal record in California, where he was paroled after serving time for robbery.

“Not one person is claiming the suspect didn’t kill Guy Gaddis,” Ray Hunt, president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union, said. “He had the same rights as you and I would have.

“This has been looked at, heard, examined and it’s time for the verdict of the jury to be carried out.”

Tamayo was among more than four dozen Mexican nationals awaiting execution in the U.S. when the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, ruled in 2004 they hadn’t been advised properly of their consular rights. The Supreme Court subsequently said hearings urged by the international court in those inmates’ cases could be mandated only if Congress implemented legislation to do so.

“Unfortunately, this legislation has not been adopted,” the Mexican foreign ministry acknowledged.