The State of Texas is scheduled to execute Joseph Garcia tonight, December 4, 2018. In December 2000, Garcia and six other inmates escaped from a maximum-security prison south of San Antonio, where he was serving time on a murder charge that Garcia has long maintained was self-defense. While robbing a sporting goods store in Irving following their escape, the “Texas 7” became involved in a shootout that left Officer Aubrey Hawkins dead.
Garcia was convicted under Texas’ law of parties, despite the fact that no evidence directly tied him to the shooting. He was sentenced to death in Dallas 2003. The controversial law of parties is a Texas statute that holds everyone involved in a crime equally responsible for its outcome.
On Friday, November 30, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected Garcia’s request for clemency. He still has several legal challenges pending with appeals courts and the U.S. Supreme Court. According to Garcia’s current attorney, “There are significant legal issues before the courts that have not been presented until now because of procedural technicalities and bad lawyering. It is important for a court to step in now and give Joseph’s case the consideration it deserves.”
Should his execution proceed, he will be the fourth of the “Texas 7” to be executed.
New York Magazine also has a powerful piece that puts Garcia’s case and scheduled execution in context, “Texas’s Death-Penalty System Is a Travesty. Joseph Garcia Is Proof.” Author Zak Cheney-Rice notes that
Nobody is served by the death penalty’s continued existence save its financial profiteers and those committed to the delusion it constitutes anything more than revenge. That a broken man like Garcia can be killed legally, here, in its name, for a crime he likely did not commit, is Texas’s shame, and ours as a nation.