Lawyers for convicted murderer Jose Ernesto Medellin are awaiting word from the Supreme Court whether his execution in Texas by lethal injection, set for this evening at 7 pm CST, will be stayed.
As noted here earlier, the issue is whether putting Medellin to death will violate his constitutional rights, given that Texas has been ordered by an international court at the United Nations to review the circumstances of his conviction and sentence. An effort is underway in Congress to craft legislation responding to that court’s order.
But Texas has never recognized the international court’s authority and its view found support in the Supreme Court last term. The International Court of Justice ruled that Texas had violated a treaty known as the Vienna Convention, which requires that foreign nationals arrested in a signatory country be given the right to meet with officials from their representative consulate. That was not done in Medellin’s case.
Last term, the Supreme Court ruled that President Bush had overstepped his executive authority in ordering Texas officials to comply with the international court directive that Medellin’s death sentence and those of the other 50 Mexican nationals be independently reviewed.
In a brief filed Monday, Medellin’s lawyers argued that ” Texas is proposing, for the first time in our Nation’s history, to proceed with an execution that is undisputedly illegal under a binding international legal obligation of the United States.”
You can read that brief here: medellin-reply.
(Thanks to the invaluable ScotusBLOG for posting the brief.)
Medellin was convicted in the brutal gang rape and murders of Elizabeth Pena, 16, and Jennifer Ertman, 14, in Houston in 1993. This account of the murder comes from my Tribune story on the case last year.
Medellin stopped Pena. When she tried to run, he threw her to the ground. Ertman ran to help her but also was shoved to the ground. They were gang-raped and beaten. Even as the girls begged for their lives, they were dragged to nearby woods and strangled, one with her own shoelace, the other with a belt and then by a shoe pressed on her windpipe. Their bodies were found four days later.
Medellin had no regrets. He bragged about the crime to his cousin and gave one of the girl’s rings to his girlfriend. His brother kept Ertman’s Disney-brand Goofy watch as a trophy.
Information from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice: