execution innocence

State of Texas executes Ivan Cantu

Tonight, February 28, 2024, the State of Texas put Ivan Cantu to death despite grave doubts about the integrity of his conviction and widespread calls to stop his execution. Cantu maintained his innocence throughout his two decades on death row.

Journalist Keri Blakinger posted his final words on X (Twitter):

Cantu was the first person executed in Texas in 2024. He also had an execution date in April 2023 that was withdrawn. Texas executed eight people in 2023, more than any other state.

Original post:
In 2001, a Collin County jury convicted Cantu of killing his cousin James Mosqueda and Mosqueda’s fiancé, Amy Kitchen, in north Dallas. Cantu has maintained his innocence throughout his two decades on death row.

Newly discovered evidence, which was not heard by the jury and has never been considered by any court, casts significant doubt on Cantu’s conviction. An independent investigation into the case exposed multiple falsehoods in the testimony of Amy Boettcher, who was Cantu’s girlfriend at the time of the crime and the main witness against him at trial. Her brother, Jeff, has disavowed his testimony against Cantu at trial, insisting he was not credible because of his history of drug abuse. None of this evidence has been, and might never be, reviewed by any court as it came to light after Cantu’s state and federal habeas corpus proceedings had concluded.

Disturbed by the prospect they heard false and misleading testimony during the trial, some of the jurors who sentenced Cantu to death want this evidence to be reviewed. 

This week, jury foreman Jeffrey Calhoun wrote in a commentary piece published in the Austin American-Statesman he felt like he “was fooled” by witnesses who lied under oath and he urged the State to stop the execution.

Calhoun writes, “I am a proud Texan, conservative, and strongly support the direction our governor has taken in upholding the standards and freedom we Texans enjoy. In full respect, I ask Governor Abbott, that you hand me back the document I signed that confirmed the jury’s decision, and delay the execution of Ivan Cantu so further examination can be conducted. This one is unfortunately flawed and therefore incomplete.” 

Yesterday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit refused to intervene and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles did not recommend clemency or a reprieve for Cantu.

Read more about the case in these recent articles:

CNN: “With Days Left Before He’s Executed, Ivan Cantu Insists He’s Innocent Of Double-Murder”

NBC News/Noticias Telemundo: “A Texas Man On Death Row Says His Execution This Month Would Be ‘For A Crime I Didn’t Commit’”

Earlier today, Idaho was scheduled to execute 73-year-old Thomas Creech, but prison officials had to call it off after they were unable to establish an IV. The death warrant has expired. Creech has been incarcerated since 1974 and is the state’s longest-serving death row inmate. The last execution in Idaho occurred in 2012.