Jose Villegas: A Retardation Claim

Jose Villegas: A retardation claim

Jose Villegas: A Retardation Claim

Jose Villegas, apparently angry that his girlfriend's mother did not want him in her Corpus Christi home, in January 2001 repeatedly stabbed 51-year-old Alma Perez and then did the same to his girlfriend, Alma's 24-year-old daughter Erida, and to her son, 3-year-old Jacob. Villegas then stole the family's TV (he pawned it for cash to buy cocaine) and left the home in Erida's car. He was picked up by police not long after the triple murder, to which he ultimately confessed.

Jose Villegas
Jose Villegas

In May 2002, he was tried and sentenced to die for the crime. Unless a court grants his request to pull the date, Villegas will be put to death on April 16.

At issue now is whether Villegas is intellectually disabled, which would make him ineligible for execution. Villegas' attorneys have asked the Nueces County court where Ville­gas was tried to modify or to withdraw the current execution date in order to allow time to have his claim of mental retardation evaluated by a court. Lawyers for the state say there's no merit to Villegas' claim. They note that Villegas' trial attorney "swore" that the defense team conducted a thorough investigation into Ville­gas' background and mental health history and found no indication that he is retarded. Indeed, the state notes that individuals who have now provided affidavits regarding Ville­gas' intellectual difficulties have previously testified on his behalf and "none of them testified that they believed he was mentally retarded or intellectually disabled," reads the state's reply brief. At press time, the district court had rejected the motion to withdraw the execution date, and an appeal filed with the Court of Criminal Appeals was pending.

If executed next week, Villegas will become the seventh inmate executed this year and the 515th executed in Texas since reinstatement of the death penalty.

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More News
AE's Solar Deal: 'Game Changer'
AE's Solar Deal: 'Game Changer'
Recurrent Energy price could lower energy rates

Nora Ankrum, July 4, 2014

Morrison to Mayor: 'It's Not Personal, It's Policy'
Morrison to Mayor: 'It's Not Personal, It's Policy'
Leffingwell refuses to give up Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Planning Org. seat

Amy Smith, July 4, 2014

More by Jordan Smith
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
Motoreum's Yusuf & Antonio talk about the biz and their reality TV debut

May 22, 2014

APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
Musical chairs at Downtown HQ

May 9, 2014


News, death penalty, capital punishment, Jose Villegas, Erida Perez Salazar, Jacob Salazar, Alma Perez, mental retardation, courts, criminal justice

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle