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“Texas 7” gang member Joseph Garcia executed for officer's killing

HUNTSVILLE, Texas – A member of the notorious "Texas 7" gang or escaped prisoners was executed Tuesday evening for the…

HUNTSVILLE, Texas – A member of the notorious “Texas 7” gang or escaped prisoners was executed Tuesday evening for the fatal shooting of a suburban Dallas police officer during a Christmas Eve robbery nearly 18 years ago. Joseph Garcia received a lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville for the December 2000 shooting death of 29-year-old Irving police officer Aubrey Hawkins.

Asked by the warden if he had a final statement, Garcia replied: “Yes, Sir. “

” Dear heavenly Father, please forgive them, for they know not what they do, “Garcia said.

He then paused, for almost a minute before talking again as the muffled revving of motorcycles ridden by

“To some of you,” Garcia said, pausing again as the lethal dose of the sedative pentobarbital apparently had already started.

“They’ve already started and I’m not even finished, “he said.

He gasped three times and snore twice before all movement stopped. He was pronounced dead at 6:43 p.m.

Garcia, 47, became the 22nd inmate put to death this year in the U.S. and the 1

2th given lethal injection in Texas, the nation’s busiest capital punishment state.

Garcia, who was serving a 50-year sentence for murder, was among a group of inmates who escaped from a South Texas prison that month and committed numerous robberies, including the one in which they shot Hawkins 11 times, killing him.

Hawkins had just finished Christmas Eve dinner with his family when he responded to the call about the robbery at a sporting goods store and was ambushed.

The escaped inmates were eventually arrested in Colorado, ending a six-week manhunt. One of them killed himself as officers closed in and the other six were convicted of killing Hawkins and sentenced to death.

Garcia was the fourth of the group put to death. Two others remain on death row.

Garcia’s attorneys had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop his execution, arguing he never fired his gun at Hawkins or intended to kill him. One of his lawyers, J. Stephen Cooper, said prosecutors did not have any information that showed his client was one of the shooters.

“He did not do anything violent or prepare or encourage anyone else to do anything violent, “Cooper said.

The High Court rejected Garcia’s appeal Tuesday evening.

Garcia was convicted under Texas’ law of parties, in which a person may be held responsible for another person’s crime if he or she assisted or attempted to help In the commission of that crime.

At the time of the prison break, Garcia was serving time for the slaying of Miguel Luna in San Antonio. Luna’s parents and his three daughters were among witnesses to Garcia’s execution, along with two friends of Hawkins.

Toby Shook, the lead prosecutor who handled Garcia’s case and the five others who were tried, said that while authorities could not narrow down which escaped inmate used which gun to shoot Hawkins, the inmates acted as a team to commit the robbery and the officer’s murder.

Shook said Garcia’s case is a clear example of why the law of parties is needed in certain cases.

“He was up to his ears Shook, now a defense attorney in Dallas.

Shook said Garcia’s execution will be another step to getting closure for Hawkins’ family and law enforcement.

“Ultimately, we can finally close the book on them when the punishments are all completed,” he said.

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