Thursday, May 02, 2002

April 30, 2002
Rodolfo Hernandez

Dead Man Walk...uh, Hopping, Call the Colonel, 4th Texan in a row orders the fried it the special herbs and spices?

The Crime: Condemned to death by a Comal County jury after being found guilty for the murder of 20-year-old Victor Cervana, Mexican national in 1985. According to information provided by the Texas Attorney General's office, Hernandez met Cervan and four other young Mexican men who had entered the United States illegally after they disembarked from a train in San Antonio.

For a fee, Hernandez offered to drive the men to Denton, where they hoped to find work. Hernandez and his brother-in-law, Jesse Garibay, drove the men to a secluded area near New Braunfels, where they stopped the car and pretended they were having car trouble. Hernandez and Garibay ordered the men out of the car at gunpoint and robbed them.

One of the men attempted to run away and was shot by Hernandez in the back. The other four were ordered to lay on the ground, and Hernandez shot each of them in the neck, killing Cervan. Four of the injured men survived and testified against Hernandez at his trial.

After returning to San Antonio, Hernandez boasted to several people about his role in Cervan's death. After watching a news report about the shootings, Hernandez told his sister that he was "a gunslinger" and had been told by President Ronald Reagan that "Texas was overpopulated and to get rid of some of San Antonio's illegal aliens."

A Jackie Robinson Moment: He became the first amputee to die by lethal injection inside the Huntsville "Walls" death house. Hernandez, who lost his left leg to complications from diabetes last July, had at one time hoped to be fitted with a prosthetic leg. Medical complications put an end to that possibility, and Hernandez was wheeled into the room, denying him a request to be fitted with a prosthetic device so he could walk to his death "like a man". Hernandez accused the state of refusing to fit him with an artificial leg because of the expense -- $8,000.

Last Words and Words and Words: Noting the tightness of the bonds holding him to the gurney on Tuesday, Hernandez said, "You've got me strapped down like I want to escape. I don't want to escape. I want them to do what they're going to do. I know the procedure." Looking at his friends, Hernandez said, "Thanks to everybody." "Everybody will be all right, because y'all are going where I'm going," he said. "Remember what I said, I want to see you all where I'm going. I'll be all right."

Hernandez then repeated the phrase, "Here I am God, I'm coming to do your will," three times in a weakening voice. Hernandez grunted loudly twice as the fatal dose of drugs was started at 6:12 p.m. He was pronounced dead at 6:23 p.m.

The Alibi: "I was there, but not as the shooter," Hernandez said. "I was identified by those men, but it was all a mistake. They were not in this country legally and they would tell the police anything you want them to say. If I had a lawyer, we could get DNA evidence to clear me."

Last meal: Two double meat cheeseburgers (all the way), french fries, three beef skirt tacos, guacamole salad, salt, and two fried chicken breasts.

Factoids: Forty days after winning a rare reprieve from the governor Hernandez was executed. Days before his scheduled March 21 execution, Hernandez told San Antonio police he had information about numerous murders in his hometown. When some of his details checked out, police asked Gov. Rick Perry to halt Hernandez's punishment. Perry agreed, using his authority to issue a one-time 30-day reprieve. San Antonio police looked into Hernandez's claims of participating in or witnessing at least 12 murders but have said very little about their probe.

Hernandez was the 10th person put to death this year in Texas, which leads the nation in capital punishment, and the 266th since the state resumed executions in 1982, six years after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a national death penalty ban.