Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
George Rivas, the leader of the Texas 7 gang of prison escapees, responsible for the Christmas Eve murder of Irving police officer Aubrey Hawkins more than a decade ago will be executed on Wednesday.
George Rivas, the mastermind of the notorious Texas 7 gang that engineered the biggest prison escape in the state's history, has a date with death on Wednesday and acknowledges he's ready to die.
Attorneys say his appeals are exhausted. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has rejected a clemency request.
41-year-old Rivas is set for execution Feb. 29 for gunning down Irving police officer Aubrey Hawkins when he interrupted their robbery of a sporting goods on Christmas Eve 11 years ago. Hawkins was shot 11 times after the fugitives stole $70,000 in cash from the store, along with 44 firearms and ammunition, winter clothing, jewelry and wallets from employees who were in the process of closing up for the evening.
Hawkins, 31, was gunned down two weeks after Rivas and six other convicts fled a South Texas prison. The gang of prisoners overpowered workers, stole their clothes, broke into the prison armory to get guns and drove away in a prison truck.
Evidence showed Rivas planned the escape from the Connally Unit south of San Antonio while serving a life sentence for 13 counts of aggravated kidnapping, four counts of aggravated robbery and one of burglary. Rivas took full responsibility for the fatal shooting but said he never intended to kill the officer.
The Texas 7 was caught a month later in Colorado, where Larry Harper killed himself.
Michael Rodriguez, volunteered for lethal injection and was executed in August 2008. Donald Newbury, 49, Patrick Murphy Jr., 50, Joseph Garcia, 40, and Randy Halprin, 34, are still appealing their death sentences.
Rivas asked the Supreme Court to consider a lower court's rejection of claims that included his legal help was ineffective and the judge made errors at his trial. In December the justices refused paving the way for his execution.
Hawkins' portrait hangs high inside the lobby of the Irving Police Department.
He was a police officer for a total of eight years and five months. He worked for the Kaufman Police Department and the St. Paul Medical Center Department of Public Safety before working in Irving for one year and three months.
NBC 5's Ken Kalthoff will be live from Huntsville beginning Wednesday on NBC 5 First at 4 p.m.