Monday, July 09, 2007

June 20. 2007 after serving less than five months of a seven-year prison term...

Last Meal: Rodriguez had no final request.

The skinny: Rodriguez was executed for the fatal shooting of a woman during a carjacking just three weeks after he had been paroled from prison.

More skinny: Rodriguez was 19 and free after serving less than five months of a seven-year prison term for burglary and cocaine possession when he and a cousin decided to prowl Houston to act out fantasies they'd seen in the movies.

With a shotgun and automatic rifle he had stolen from his stepfather the day before, Rodriguez joined his cousin, James Gonzales, in driving around town looking for a place to rob.

At a stop light at an intersection in Houston, Rodriguez noticed a young woman sitting alone at the wheel of a car next to them. Rodriguez aimed the rifle at the woman and fired one time, striking her in the temple. Rodriguez jumped out of the vehicle and ran over, dumped the woman’s body on the street and drove off in her car, with Gonzalez following. The young woman was a 22-year old who had been working a double shift that night, covering for her sister who was pregnant.

Gonzales, still driving his own car, soon after tried to flee from an officer who was pulling him over for a broken taillight. Fearing he was being stopped for the shooting, he told officers Rodriguez was the gunman. Police then tracked down Rodriguez near his home. The interior of the car and Rodriguez’s pants were soaked in the victim's blood, and her bone, blood and brain matter was clotted throughout his hair.

Gonzales received a 40-year prison term.

Death Twice: A jury convicted Rodriguez of capital murder in May 1991 and sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed his conviction in December 1993 because the jury cards - which determine the order in which potential jurors are considered for the panel - were shuffled twice. Rodriguez was tried again and in September 1994 was again found guilty of capital murder and sentenced to death.

He confessed to the killing.

Last words and such: "You have every right to hate me. You have every right to want to see this. To you and my family, you all don't deserve to see this," Rodriguez told the relatives of the victim, as he looked directly at them as they watched through a window nearby. He said he did not write them a letter to apologize because he wanted to do it "face-to-face." "It is the right thing to do. None of this should have happened. I've got a good family just like you're a good family," he continued.

Rodriguez said he hoped that the woman's family could put aside any bitterness because of what he did. "I'm responsible. I'm responsible," he repeated. "I'm sorry to you all. This should have never happened." He thanked his relatives who watched through another window, adding, "We'll see each other again." He muttered a brief prayer, mouthed them a kiss and closed his eyes as the lethal drugs began to take effect.

Factoids: Rodriguez was the...

24th murderer executed in U.S. in 2007
1081st murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
16th murderer executed in Texas in 2007
395th murderer executed in Texas since 1976