Death Watch: Relief Denied, Inmate to Be Executed

Escamilla to be 12th Texan executed this year


Texas will execute its 12th Texan this year when it sends Licho Escamilla to the gurney on Wed., Oct. 14. He was convicted of capital murder in the Nov. 25, 2001, shooting death of 34-year-old Christopher Kevin James, an off-duty policeman carrying out secondary employment as a security guard at Dallas' Club DMX.

Escamilla, 33, shot James at 2:45am after a fight broke out on the sidewalk of the northwest Dallas club. (Evidence has also been presented to implicate that Escamilla fatally shot another man, Michael Torres, days before James' murder.) Considered indigent, he was represented by underprepared attorneys who brought only 10 pages of handwritten investigatory notes to trial and attempted to sway jurors into convicting Escamilla of murder charges rather than capital murder (an admission of guilt for Escamilla) because at the time of the murder, James wasn't technically working as a Dallas police officer.

His counsel's admission and altogether ineffective assistance throughout proceedings have led the arguments Escamilla and his current set of attorneys have used in attempts to stave off his execution. (Escamilla has also brought up his abusive upbringing, and suggested that Texas' lethal injection protocols violate the Eighth Amendment.) Thus far, he hasn't had much luck. Petitions for relief at the state and federal levels have both been unsuccessful, as was an April 2012 motion for a new trial (on many of the same grounds). In Feb­ruary, Escamilla learned that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals did not see enough mitigating evidence in earlier requests for relief to reverse the decision on his execution.

Escamilla had a final petition with the U.S. Supreme Court denied Monday morning. He stands to be the 530th Texan executed since 1976.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Licho Escamilla, Christopher Kevin James, 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, death watch, death row

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