A former gang member was put to death Tuesday evening for the fatal shootings of three rivals 14 years ago in San Antonio.
Miguel Paredes, 32, was convicted along with two other men in the September 2000 slayings of three people with ties to the Mexican Mafia. The victims' bodies were rolled up in a carpet, driven about 50 miles southwest, dumped and set on fire. A farmer investigating a grass fire found the remains.
Paredes was pronounced dead at 6:54 p.m. CDT, 22 minutes after being injected with a lethal dose of the sedative pentobarbital. The execution was delayed slightly to ensure the IV lines were functioning properly, said Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark. The procedure calls for two working lines.
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Normally needles are placed in the crease of an inmate's arms near the elbows, but in Paredes' case, prison officials inserted IV lines into his hands.
As witnesses entered the death chamber in Huntsville, Paredes smiled and mouthed several kisses to four friends watching through a window and repeatedly told them he loved them. He told everyone gathered that he hoped his victims' family members would "let go of all of the hate because of all my actions."
"I came in as a lion and I come as peaceful as a lamb," Paredes said. "I'm at peace. I hope society sees who else they are hurting with this."
He showed no signs of discomfort. As the drugs began taking effect, he took several deep breaths while praying at the same time. He started to snore and eventually stopped.
The execution was carried out after the U.S. Supreme Court turned down a last-day appeal from attorneys who contended Paredes was mentally impaired and his previous lawyers were deficient for not investigating his mental history.
His was the 10th lethal injection this year in Texas, the nation's most active death-penalty state.
One other Texas inmate is set to die in December and at least nine are scheduled for execution in early 2015, including four in January.
Prosecutors said Paredes was the most aggressive shooter when Nelly Bravo and Shawn Michael Cain, both 23, and Adrian Torres, 27, showed up to collect drug money at the home of John Anthony Saenz, a leader in Paredes' gang.
Defense attorneys argued that Paredes, who turned 18 six weeks before the slayings, grew up in a neighborhood where the only way to survive was to join a gang.
No friends or relatives of the three victims attended Paredes' execution. Cain's family said in a statement afterward that Cain was "no longer with us for no other reason than being in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"Our family has waited 14 years for justice to finally be served," the statement said.
Paperwork carrying Saenz's name was found in the debris with the victims' bodies, which helped police solve the case. Saenz, 32, claimed self-defense at his trial and avoided the death penalty when jurors sentenced him to life. The third man convicted in the killings, Greg Alvarado, 35, pleaded guilty and also is serving life in prison.