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Ivan Cantu, convicted in double murder, executed in Texas

Ivan Cantu

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — Ivan Cantu, convicted in the fatal shooting of his cousin and his relative’s girlfriend, was executed by lethal injection in Texas on Wednesday.

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Cantu, 50, was put to death at Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville. It was the first execution of the year in Texas.

The Dallas native, who had maintained his innocence, was pronounced dead at 6:47 p.m. CST, The Washington Post reported.

“After over two decades of multiple state and federal courts comprehensively reviewing his conviction, Ivan Cantu has finally met with justice tonight,” Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis said in a statement. “My hopeful prayer is for the victims’ families, friends, and loved ones to find a long-awaited sense of peace.”

He was sentenced to death by a Collin County jury in 2001 for the Nov. 4, 2000, shootings of his cousin, James Mosqueda, 27; and his cousin’s girlfriend, Amy Kitchen, 22, The Dallas Morning News reported. The shootings occurred during a botched robbery at Mosqueda’s home in Dallas, according to the newspaper.

Kitchen was a nursing student at the time of her death.

Cantu had run out of legal options by Wednesday morning, The Texas Tribune reported.

His clemency application was unanimously denied by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles on Monday, and the state supreme court and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied his requests to stay the execution, according to the website.

Cantu’s attorney, Gena Bunn, said on Wednesday that she would not submit a final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Morning News reported. The attorney said that she “couldn’t find a viable path” to have Cantu’s case reviewed by the nation’s highest court.

Cantu had been scheduled to be executed in August 2011 and again in April 2023, according to the newspaper.

A petition seeking to spare Cantu collected more than 140,000 signatures. Celebrities, including Kim Kardashian, Martin Sheen and Jane Fonda have joined the efforts to demand that the Collin County District Attorney’s Office give Cantu another day in court, the Morning News reported.

Advocates for Cantu said that prosecutorial and defense misconduct, the discovery of physical evidence and a witness who admitted to lying under oath during the trial were grounds to delay the execution again, the Post reported.

“I can’t say for sure that he’s innocent; but I can’t say for sure that he’s guilty,” Abraham Bonowitz, executive director of the anti-capital punishment organization, Death Penalty Action, said during an online vigil for Cantu before Wednesday’s execution. “There’s just too much doubt.”

“Everybody has a right to have a say so in a court of law and my son’s voice was muzzled,” Sylvia Cantu, Ivan Cantu’s mother, said at a news conference earlier this month. “I ask that his voice be heard.”

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