My home state is set to execute Humberto Leal Garcia, Jr. today by lethal injection for the rape and murder of 16-year-old Adria Saucedo. Looking at the facts of the case and the evidence, it really is open and shut; forensic evidence along with witness testimony was absolutely damning. This morning, the Supreme Court handed down a 5-4 decision against a stay of execution. The case, however, won’t die – any more than other cases involving foreign nationals, particularly Mexicans sentenced to death in Texas. Jose Medellin was executed in 2008 despite the argument that he was never given access to the Mexican Consulate.
The argument went that Medellin, who had been brought to the United States as a small child, had never been notified of his right to notify the Mexican Consulate and seek their counsel during his trial on the same thing – double rape and murder, a crime that he committed with friends as part of a gang initiation. Evidence in that case was outrageous and could not be denied; a nylon belt belonging to one of the gang members was found broken on the body of one of the victims, the rest of the belt in possession of its owner; a ring bearing a large “E” had been stolen by another gang member and given to his girlfriend; blood was found all over the shirt of another gang member; yet another was videotaped smiling at the scene of the crime. Along with this, witnesses and gang members who testified pretty well sealed the fate of Medellin and four of his friends – they received the death penalty. Later, after SCOTUS ruled that those who committed heinous crimes while under the age of 18 could not be put to death, two of the killers had their sentences commuted to life in prison. Medellin’s trial did not end until 1997, four years after the murders, yet his lawyers had failed to mention to anyone that he’d been denied his right to speak to the Mexican consulate – even though until then he believed he was born in the US and had no idea that he was actually an illegal from Mexico.
One year after the crime that shook Oak Forest, Humberto Leal was at a party with 16-year-old Adria Saucedo. Witnesses said that Saucedo was intoxicated and high on cocaine while several men at the party supposedly raped her. She was later put in Leal’s vehicle, and multiple witnesses said she left with him; a short time later, Leal’s brother showed up in absolute hysterics, screaming that Humberto had returned home covered in blood, saying he’d killed a girl. Partygoers immediately began searching for the girl and found her dying of severe head trauma, the 40-pound asphalt rock used to beat her to death in the dirt beside her, a stick with a screw still in it protruding from her vagina.
At first, when questioned, Leal claimed that he was taking her home when she got upset and jumped out of the car. When told that his brother had also given a statement about what he’d really said, Leal corrected himself: he said she jumped out but he had followed her and pushed her down, then when he saw blood coming from her nose and mouth he ran away. Police searched his home and found Adria’s blood-spattered blouse in his room. Luminol testing showed that blood had been present on the passenger-side seat and door, but a serious attempt to clean it up had been made and there wasn’t enough left to test. Bite marks on Adria’s face and neck matched Leal’s teeth. With more than enough evidence to convict, the prosecution easily won a conviction.
There are many, however, who are screaming that he should have been given access to the Mexican Consulate.
Why? He was brought here to the US when he was not quite two years old. I’d be willing to bet he didn’t know he wasn’t a US citizen, either, and it didn’t come up until much later. The argument being made by President Obama and several others is that Texas’ refusal to stop his execution and give him a new hearing about consular access will put Americans abroad in danger of being deprived of the same right.
How is that? How often are Americans given access to our consulate in Mexico when they’re arrested for petty offenses? There are a number of stories of Americans being arrested by crooked cops and being treated horribly in squalid jail cells, their possessions stolen and sold, while families fight tooth and nail to get them the things they need, much less get them home. Talk to Dawn Marie Wilson, stopped by Mexican police with her husband on their boat just off Mexican shores. During a search of the vessel, police confiscated a prescription – written by an American doctor and filled at a Mexican pharmacy, they accused her of possession of an illegal prescription. Without access to the US consulate she was sentenced to five years in Mexican prison, where she says drugs and prostitution were rampant and there was no sanitation, running water or adequate food. She was freed in 2004 after a year and a half – and Mexican police stole her credit card, charging $4200 on it.
Ask Tillie Blount, whose son James was arrested for possession of Thorazine despite there being no history at all of drug or alcohol use. James was tossed in a dank cell with 60 other inmates and appeared to US consular officials to be disturbed when they saw him. He was beaten to death by five inmates and a guard while he paced and talked to himself in 2000.
Ask attorney Dick Atkins, who reports that thousands of Americans go to foreign jails in Mexico every year, often languishing for months without being charged – some for years without charges or trial. In Mexico, those involved in traffic accidents often go to jail if they don’t first go to the hospital, regardless of who caused it, until the investigation is complete – and he described one case where an American was rear-ended by a Mexican (yes, the Mexican caused it) and was taken to jail. In other countries, he says that food and medical care are hardly adequate (India, Mexico), it can be nearly impossible to find a person incarcerated (China, and torture is rampant (Saudi Arabia). In most other countries, pretrial detention can last for years, often without bail.
I’m sorry, but I’m having an awfully hard time feeling sorry for the animal who tortured, raped and murdered a teenage girl and left enough forensic evidence to convince Hellen Keller of his guilt. He didn’t have access to the Mexican consulate? Aw, poor baby. My heart bleeds peanut butter for him. His life in US jails and prisons has been a vacation compared to what he would have gotten in Mexico, death penalty included. At least his death will be peaceful.
I don’t believe for one second that Americans will be in any more danger overseas than they already are with things being the way they are. When was the last time you heard of a US attorney demanding $70,000, a new house and a new car from the family of a suspect incarcerated for trying to pass counterfeit money to buy prescription medication? Aside from all of that, America is a sovereign nation, one not required to obey international law. John Kerry can kiss my ass with his global litmus test…if we spend all of our time trying to make everyone else in the world happy, we’ll never get anything done. Our laws are ours, and nobody else gets a say.
Don’t whine about how bad America is. We’re a shining light in this world. If you ask me, the bad guys have it way too easy in prison. Believe me. I saw it with my own two eyes. As for Humberto Leal, he and his family wanted to live here – they get to abide by our law. Put him to death and send everyone a message that if you kill someone here, in the words of Ron White, “we will kill you back!”