05 December 2018 :
Joseph Christopher Garcia, 47, Hispanic, was executed on 4 December 2018.
Garcia was sent to death row for the 2000 killing of a police officer after escaping from prison with six other men. Garcia was serving 50 years for stabbing a man to death in 1996 when he joined a notorious prison break-out.
One of the so-called "Texas 7," Garcia and the other escapees who survived were all sentenced to die—some of them under the controversial law of parties—for the slaying of Officer Aubrey Hawkins, who in December 2000 was ambushed and gunned down outside of Dallas. More than two weeks before the murder, the desperate prisoners busted out of the Connally Unit south of San Antonio, setting off a monthlong manhunt with a high-dollar reward. It was George Rivas, a prisoner serving 17 life sentences, who masterminded the plot to subdue guards and tie up civilian employees and fellow inmates as hostages. Two of the escaping inmates dressed up like prison workers and snuck into the armory and took over the guard tower. After stealing the keys to a prison truck, the men stocked up on guns and supplies and made their escape. Driving to Houston, they pulled off two robberies there before heading north to the Dallas area. There, on December 24, 2000, they held up a sporting goods store and snatched a stash of money and guns. But as they fled, they ran into Hawkins. The men surrounded his patrol car and shot him 11 times before running over his body and driving off.
The Texas 7 were eventually arrested on January 22, 2001. Garcia has long maintained he was not one of the shooters, and his lawyers in a clemency petition argued that there's no evidence he was even outside when the shooting occurred. After the slaying, the men fled to Colorado, where they were caught the following month. One of the escapees—Larry Harper—killed himself rather than be captured alive and returned to prison. The other six were sentenced to death.
Rivas was executed in 2012. Michael Rodriguez and Donald Newbury were put to death in 2008 and 2015, respectively. The others—Patrick Murphy and Randy Halprin—remained on death row, like Garcia, fighting their cases. In a clemency petition filed in late 2018, Garcia's attorneys said the state shouldn't have used sentencing arguments based on the law of parties. Even though the law of parties dictates that everyone involved in a crime can be found guilty together, it doesn't mean they have to receive the same punishment. Garcia was interviewed in a documentary, “On Death Row”, released in 2012 by the famous european director Werner Herzog.
Garcia becomes the 12th inmate to be put to death this year in Texas and the 557th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1982. Garcia becomes the 22nd inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 1,487th overall since the nation resumed executions on January 17, 1977.