The Obama Administration has asked the state of Texas to refrain from executing a Mexican national who was convicted of raping and murdering a Texas teenaged girl.
Humberto Leal, 38, of Monterrey, Mexico, slew 16-year-old Adria Sauceda in 1994, She was found with bite marks on her body, her head crushed by concrete and a large stick protruding from her corpse.
Leal's lawyers contend that while he was probably responsible for the death of the young girl, they insisted that had the defendant received consular assistance instead of a state-appointed defense lawyer (under terms of the Vienna Convention.), he might have been convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter.
In this vein, the Obama administration holds that an execution of Leal could endanger Americans in foreign countries who would also entitled to consular assistance
This case implicates United States foreign-policy interests of the highest order, said Donald Verrilli, Obama's Solicitor General in an amicus brief filed in the Supreme Court.
The imminent execution of petitioner would place the United States in irreparable breach of its international law obligation.
By killing Leal, Verrilli said, would have serious repercussions for United States foreign relations, law enforcement and other co-operation with Mexico, and the ability of American citizens travelling abroad to have the benefits of consular assistance in the event of detention.
The U.S. Supreme Court is currently deliberating whether or not to stay the execution, while attorneys for the state of Texas are demanding Leal be killed.
In the event the Supreme Court fails to act, the Republican governor of Texas, Rick Perry – who may seek the GOP Presidential nomination next year – might intervene.
If Perry gets involved, Leal’s days will be numbered.
In his decade in power, Perry has rejected clemency in 230 executions in the state.
The United Nations, Amnesty International and several former diplomats and military officers have asked that Leal be spared and sentenced to life imprisonment.
However, Perry has only commuted the death sentences of 31 condemned prisoners over his reign (of which 28 were juveniles at the time of the crime).
Polls indicate that about two-thirds of Americans support the death penalty.