HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court refused to block Texas from executing a Mexican citizen despite a White House-backed appeal that claimed the case could affect other foreigners arrested in the U.S. and Americans in legal trouble abroad.
Humberto Leal was executed Thursday evening for the 1994 rape and murder of a San Antonio teenager after his attorneys, supported also by the Mexican government and other diplomats, unsuccessfully sought a stay. They argued that Leal was denied help from his home country that could have helped him avoid the death penalty.
From the death chamber, Leal repeatedly apologized and then shouted "Viva Mexico!" as the lethal drugs began taking effect. The 38-year-old mechanic was sentenced to death for killing 16-year-old Adria Sauceda, whose brutalized nude body was found hours after the two left a street party.
Leal was just a toddler when he and his family moved to the U.S. from Monterrey, Mexico, but his citizenship became a key element of his attorneys' appeals. They said police never told him following his arrest that he could seek legal assistance from the Mexican government under an international treaty.
Mexico's government, President Barack Obama's administration and others wanted the Supreme Court to stay the execution to allow Congress time to consider legislation that would require court reviews for condemned foreign nationals who aren't offered the help of their consulates. The high court rejected the request 5-4.