Texas executes death row inmate despite Kim Kardashian bid to spare him

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The Lone Star State executed a man on Wednesday despite the protests of advocates and celebrity supporters including Kim Kardashian and Martin Sheen.

Ivan Cantu, 50, was convicted of killing his cousin, James Mosqueada, and his cousin’s fiancée Amy Kitchen, in 2001. In addition to high profile supporters, three jurors who convicted the man had advocated for a stay of execution in Cantu’s case.

Cantu’s death was announced by officials at 6.47pm CT on Wednesday at Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville.

He used his final statement to say he did not kill Kitchen and Mosqueda, adding he did not believe his execution would bring the families any closure or peace. “I want you to know that I never killed James and Amy,” he said, according to state justice department.

“And if I did, if I knew who did, you would’ve been the first to know any information I would’ve had that would’ve helped to bring justice to James and Amy I would’ve shared. I want you all to know that I don’t think that this situation here will bring you closure if it does.

“If this is what it takes or have any reservations off in your mind, then so be it. This is not going to help you guys and I want you to know from me that it never occurred.” Cantu also thanked his family members and his attorney.

Two relatives and a family friend of Kitchen reportedly were present for the execution, but later declined to speak with reporters.

Throughout the week, Cantu’s legal team made efforts to postpone his death but they were denied by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

His attorneys decided against filing a writ of certiorari with the US Supreme Court because they could not find a “viable path forward”, CNN reported. His only hope would be a 30-day stay of execution from Republican Governor Greg Abbott, though this was ultimately not granted.

At least 16 Texas death row prisoners have been exonerated since 1973.

Cantu’s attorney had hoped to present new evidence to officials regarding his claim to innocence. Much of the new information was found by Matt Duff, a podcaster.

Mr Mosqueada and Ms Kitchen were fatally shot in Dallas in 2000. Cantu’s trial was riddled with problems, jurors said. The foreman told media outlets this week that he doesn’t believe the jury was presented with a complete picture of the case.

A key witness in the trial has recanted and it’s believed that another witness might’ve lied on the stand. Cantu has previously said that he was framed in the trial and believes that Mr Mosqueada, an alleged drug dealer, and Ms Kitchen were targeted by a rival dealer in the area.

Ivan Cantu was pronounced dead at 6.47pm local time in Texas on Wednesday (Texas Department of Criminal Justice)
Ivan Cantu was pronounced dead at 6.47pm local time in Texas on Wednesday (Texas Department of Criminal Justice)

He’s also said that he had ineffective counsel at his trial. His attorneys did not call any witnesses during a part of the trial that analysed whether he was guilty.

Despite this, Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis has not been swayed. “It’s my firm belief that justice has been done in this case and that a Collin County jury’s verdict should be carried out on February 28th,” he told the outlet.

At the time of Cantu’s trial, prosecutors said that his fingerprints were found on the magazine that was part of the firearm used to kill his cousin. Additionally, Cantu’s jeans had blood that belonged to Mr Mosqueada and Ms Kitchen per DNA tests, prosecutors said.

Cantu was put to death by lethal injection hours after a similar attempt was botched by prison officials in Idaho. Officials there were unable to establish an IV line, during the execution of Thomas Creech. Similar incidents have previously happened in attempted lethal injection executions.

Cantu’s death sentence has previously received attention from high-profile figures including Kim Kardashian, who said she had been “really moved” by the case.

In January the reality star took to X and urged her Texan followers to write to their state conviction integrity units.

“The prosecutors offices are beginning to recognize that there are a lot of mistakes in convictions,” she wrote.

“They encourage you to write into their integrity units about specific cases, so I am encouraging everyone to write in about the case of Ivan Cantu. The time to act to save Ivan Cantu is now!”

In an Instagram video posted by celebrity activist Jane Fonda, actor Martin Sheen also implored fans to add their names to a petition to have Cantu’s case re-examined.

A small group of anti-death penalty protesters gathered outside the Huntsville Unit shortly before the execution took place.