The Texas execution of a Mexican in the Lone Star State may put Americans who run afoul of the law in foreign countries at greater risk. Texas has executed Mexican citizen Edgar Tamayo despite pleas from Mexico and Washington. The 46-year-old, jailed twenty years ago for murdering a Houston police officer, was the first of the condemned in Texas to be executed in 2014.
To take pressure off of diplomatic relations with Mexico, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had intervened and asked Texas to delay the execution. The request was condemned by the officer’s family as well as death penalty supporters.
Gary Gaddis, a brother of the slain officer said, “We’re [outside the Texas execution site] here to remind the public who the true victim is in this crime and to warn the public that John Kerry has no right to try to chain the lock to the Supreme Court and turn the keys over to the international community.”
In 2004, the judicial body of the United Nations, informally known as the World Court, ruled that the US was to review the conviction of Tamayo. Also at stake were the convictions of 50 other Mexican citizens who saw their Vienna Convention rights violated. A Texas execution faced most of those 50 as well.
Kerry had reached out to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot seeking a stay of execution for Tamayo. The Secretary of State’s appeal included concerns that the execution may set a benchmark for how American’s are treated overseas. While Kerry didn’t doubt the facts of Tamayo’s conviction nor did he express sympathy for Tamayo, his statement said, “…I am raising because it could impact the way American citizens are treated in other countries.”
Unable to travel to the U.S. to say goodbye, Tamayo’s family gathered in Miacatlan as news of his death was received.
Mexico had objected strongly to the execution. The country claimed that Tamayo had never been made aware of his legal right to seek help from the Mexican consulate. In a statement issued earlier in the week, the Mexican government said that it strongly opposed the execution. The statement went on to say that any failure by the U.S. to review the case would constitute a violation of America’s obligations under international treaties.
The criticism from the Mexican government and subsequent appeal from the U.S. State Department followed claims by Tamayo’s attorneys that he was not promptly told he could get assistance from the Mexican consulate after his 1994 arrest. Records from the trial show that the Mexican consulate became aware of the case just as the trial began.
Prior to the execution, the U.S. Supreme Court looked at two last-ditch appeals Wednesday. The first looked at the problem of Tamayo’s mental health and whether it made him ineligible for execution. The second issue was related to the consulate matter.
Officer Gaddis, 24 when he was murdered, had been taking Tamayo and another man to jail from the scene of a robbery. Tamayo, who had hidden a pistol in his trousers, shot Gaddis three times in the neck and head. Tamayo escaped but was recaptured close by. Still in the handcuffs Gaddis had put on him, Tamayo was also wearing the robbery victim’s watch and necklace.
The last item on a Facebook page set up for Edgar Tamayo only read:
#EdgarTamayo ya murio a las 9:32
Texas led the country in executions in 2013 with 400 instances. The second most active death row was in Florida with 38. A Texas execution is conducted with the injection of a single drug, phenobarbital.
By Jerry Nelson