Texas executed a convicted murderer Tuesday for killing a Christian missionary and robbing him of $8 in 1998. Juan Martin Garcia is the 11th death row inmate to be executed in the state this year.
Garcia was injected with a lethal dose of pentobarbital drug and was pronounced dead 12 minutes later at 6:26 p.m. CDT (7:26 p.m. EDT). He apologized to the victim Hugo Solano’s family.
"The harm that I did to your dad and husband -- I hope this brings you closure," Garcia told Solano’s wife and daughter, according to the Associated Press (AP). "I never wanted to hurt any of you all," the 35-year-old added.
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review Garcia's case in March. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles also rejected a mercy petition from him last week and no last-minute appeals were filed for Garcia.
In September 1998, Garcia and three other men attempted to rob Solano, a Christian missionary from Guadalajara, Mexico. Garcia then shot and killed Solano and took $8 in cash, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
However, Garcia’s attorneys maintained that their client was not provided with proper legal assistance during his trial and said he was mentally impaired, making him ineligible for the death penalty. In an interview to the AP in September this year, Garcia said Solano resisted the robbery, prompting him to kill the 36-year-old.
“He punches me," Garcia said. "First thing that came through my mind is that the dude is going to try to kill me. He grabbed the gun with both of his hands and it discharged."
Eleazar Mendoza, one of Garcia's three companions, received 55 years of life in prison. Another defendant, Raymond McBen, was handed down 30 years of jail term. The fourth man charged, Gabriel Morales, was given life sentence.
Texas, which carries out more executions annually than any other U.S. state, is scheduled to put to death three more people this year. One of these include Licho Escamilla, who is set to face capital punishment on Oct. 14 for the fatal shooting of Dallas police Officer Christopher Kevin James.