Mexican Consulate
The Mexican Consulate wasn't consulted in Leal's case. Image: Ken Lund/Flickr/CC BY-SA

The U. S. Supreme Court is considering blocking the execution of a Mexican National for the rape and murder of a teenage girl. The White House has asked for a stay of execution on the grounds that Texas courts have ignored international treaty rights. Prosecutors say it is a ploy to delay execution.

Consular help not offered

The White House is asking the courts to delay the execution so Congress can review the case. Administration officials believe the Texas courts may have ignored a law that allows detained foreign nationals to receive help from their consulates.

1994 murder of a 16-year-old girl

Humberto Leal Garcia, 38, is scheduled to be executed Thursday evening. He was sentenced to death in Texas for the 1994 murder of 16-year-old Adria Sauceda. Her nude body was found only hours after she left a party with Garcia. Her head had been bashed in with a large chunk of asphalt.

A citizen of Mexico

Garcia moved with his family to the U.S. from Monterry, Mexico, when he was 2, but he never became an American citizen. Garcia’s appeal charges that Texas law enforcement officials never informed him that he could seek legal help from his native country. The appeal further states that such counsel would have strengthened his case.

Legislation requires legal reviews

The focus of the appeal was legislation introduced last month by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy (D). The legislation states that cases involving condemned foreign nationals require court reviews to determine whether consular help would have affected the outcome of their trials. Last week, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. supported Garcia’s appeal and asked that the execution be delayed for six months to allow Congress a chance to review it thoroughly.

Sandra Babcock, one of Garcia’s attorneys, said, “The legislation would give Mr. Garcia an opportunity to demonstrate that with consular assistance, he likely would not have been convicted, let alone sentenced to death.”

Support from the Mexican government

The Mexican government has supported the delay of the execution and has warned that the execution would violate international treaty provisions and possibly endanger Americans detained in other countries.

Prosecutors claim evidence is overwhelming

Prosecutors say Garcia’s appeals are merely an attempt to delay the execution, and that the evidence against him is overwhelming. They say that Garcia was high on cocaine the night of the murder and changed his testimony in court. Originally, Garcia claimed that Sauceda ran from him and that was the last he saw of her. However, when a witness testified that Garcia’s brother was distraught when his brother returned home after the party with blood all over him, Leal reportedly changed his story. He said the girl attacked him and fell after he fought back. He said he couldn’t rouse her, so he became frightened and returned home.

Sauceda’s mother, Rachel Terry, referring to the appeal, said, “A technicality doesn’t give anyone a right to come to this country and rape, torture and murder anyone.”

Sources

CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2011/CRIME/07/01/texas.death.row.inmate/index.html
CBS: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/07/07/national/main20077465.shtml
MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43665986/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/t/texas-mulls-white-house-request-delay-execution/

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