Nation - Texas Prisoner executed for killing cellmate Man was 10th inmate put to death in Texas this year

By Michael Graczyk

Associated Press Writer

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) -- Condemned Texas inmate Rogelio Cannady was executed Wednesday evening for killing his cellmate while already serving two life sentences for a double murder.

Cannady, 37, from Harlingen, didn't deny fatally beating 55-year-old Leovigildo Bonal with a belt and padlock in October 1993, but he insisted the attack at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice McConnell Unit in Beeville was self defense from Bonal's sexual advances.

In the death chamber he smiled and nodded to his brother, a niece and three friends he selected to witness his death and told them repeatedly he loved them.

"I'm going to be OK," he said as they watched through a window. "Y'all take care of yourself ... May God have mercy on my soul."

As he waited for the drugs to take effect, he laughed and lifted his head from the gurney.

"I thought it was going to be harder than this," he said, grinning. "I'm going to sleep now. I can feel it. It's affecting me."

Then he began snoring.

Eight minutes later, at 6:19 p.m. CDT, he was pronounced dead. He was the 10th inmate put to death in the nation's most active death penalty state.

Cannady walked to the death chamber about 30 minutes after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal that his confession in the 1990 murders of two teenage runaways in the Rio Grande Valley was coerced, meaning Cannady should have never been imprisoned in the first place.

It was the second appeal rejected by the high court this week in his case. State attorneys said the late appeals were without merit and that questions about Cannady's confession already had been resolved.

Cannady's lawyer said the case was "clearly one that deserves more investigation."

Cannady was sentenced to two life sentences after pleading guilty to the 1990 murders of 16-year-old Ricardo Garcia of Freer and 13-year-old Ana Robles of Brownsville -- both runaways from a youth home. Garcia was stabbed 13 times. Robles was raped and strangled.

Two of Garcia's brothers also witnessed Cannady's death. Cannady did not address them and the brothers declined to speak with reporters afterward.

Cannady, who was 17 at the time and one of four teenagers arrested in the case, said an investigator persuaded him to sign a confession to avoid the death sentence.

"I got scared," he said from death row. "I was afraid I'd get the death penalty. Ironically, I did."

State lawyers said Cannady swore in court that he "had not been coerced or forced into pleading guilty and that his plea was entirely free and voluntary."

John Alba, 54, faces lethal injection in Texas on Tuesday for gunning down his 28-year-old estranged wife Wendy in Allen in Collin County in 1991.

Published: Fri, May 21, 2010