Blogging mostly about mundane stuff like, immigration, Workers' Compensation and other immigrant related activities.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Crime and Punishment

Jose Ernesto Medellin, a Mexican national was executed by Texas authorities in defiance the World Court. Medellin was executed by lethal injection Tuesday evening over the objections of the international judicial body and official requests from neighboring Mexico to stay the execution.

The World Court last month had ordered the U.S. government to "take all measures necessary" towards halting the upcoming executions of five Mexicans on death row, including Medellin on the grounds that they, as Mexican Nationals had been deprived of their right to consular services after their arrests.

Jose Medellin, 33, was pronounced dead at 9:57 p.m. CDT (0257 GMT) in the state's death chamber in Huntsville, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said.

Reuters Article
The execution of Medellin is likely to affect Mexico/US relations. Mexico does not have capital punishment and it views the execution of any of it's nationals as a violation of human rights. A concerned echoed by relatives of Medellin. Reyna Armendariz, an aunt of Medellin said:

"He was a normal, happy kid ... They don't have the right to take his life away, we acknowledged that he committed a crime but make him pay with a life sentence," she said

The crime for which Medellin was condemned to dies was horrific. According to the Texas Attorney Generals office, 16-year-old, Elizabeth Pena and her 14-year-old companion, Jennifer Ertman were walking home from a friend's house, taking a shortcut along some railroad tracks when they stumbled upon the group. Evidence showed the girls were gang raped for more than an hour, then were kicked and beaten before being strangled.

A red nylon belt was pulled so tight around Jennifer Ertman's neck that the belt snapped. The belt was later recovered from co-defendant Sean O'Brien's home. O’Brien told police that he gave his belt to Joe Medellin, who used it to strangle one of the girls. At Medellin’s instruction, O’Brien grabbed one end of the belt and helped strangle the victim.

Sean Derrick O'Brien was executed via lethal injection on July 11, 2006. A total of 6 boys were convicted in the girls deaths. Two boys, Efrain Perez and Raul Villareal, who were 17 at the time of the crimes, eventually had their sentences commuted to life in prison when the Supreme Court barred execution of juveniles.

Another, Peter Cantu, described as the ringleader of the group, is on death row. He does not have a death date.

The sixth person convicted, Vernancio Medellin, brother of Jose was 14 at the time and is serving a 40-year prison term. NPR Story

International Law

The defiance of Texas authorities to the World Court's jurisdiction should not come as surprise. Texans generally don't like outsiders telling them what to do and in this instance Texas, Gov. Perry not only defied the international law, but also President George W. Bush who had directed his native Texas to comply with the World Court ruling in 2004 which mandated a review of the cases of Medellin and other Mexicans in U.S. prisons awaiting executions.

Nonetheless, this issue is likely to arise once again, since Texas houses some 27 death row inmates who happen to be foreign nationals, 13 of those inmates are Mexican. The political fall-out over the execution of Mexican nationals will eventually resurface in between Texas (US) and Mexico.

In the meantime Tuesdays execution of Medellin will be viewed in the eyes of the world as cruel and unusual punishment and further erode the stature of the United States as a fully developed nation. Medellin could have been fully punished for his crime via a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

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