Another of the Murderous 'Texas Seven' Prison Escapees to be Executed

A San Antonio man who is one of the infamous "Texas Seven" is set to be executed tonight, but experts say the case shows the flaws in the state's 'Law of Parties', News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

"It's undisputed that Joseph Garcia neither intended that a murder took place nor expected that a murder would take place," Robert Dunham, head of the Death Penalty Information Center says.

Garcia was serving a 50-year murder sentence when, in 2000, he and six other inmates broke out of the Connally Unit in Kenedy, Texas, and went on a crime spree that included the murder of Irving Police Officer Aubrey Hawkins.

The men were in the process of burglarizing Oshman's Supersports on Christmas Eve when the murder took place.  Garcia was inside the store and did not pull the trigger.  Five other men fired shots.  The one that hit the officer came from the ringleader, George Rivas, who confessed.  

But under Texas's 'Law of Parties', Garcia was found guilty and sentenced to capital punishment.  

Dunham says Texas's law is in direct opposition to the law governing the death penalty.

"What's supposed to happen is that, irrespective of how bad a crime was, the jury is supposed to consider the culpability of the person in front of them."

Tonight's execution - and the debate around how it happened - he thinks could be enough to change state law.

"The attention that's being brought to this underscores the unfairness of Texas's process, and that may in time lead to change."

But the change would have to come from a state legislature that has historically been hesitant to change death penalty statute.

When Garcia is executed tonight, he'll be the fourth member of the "Texas Seven" to be put to death by the state.  One committed suicide.  Two other men are still on death row.


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