Texas
2:54 pm
Tue July 5, 2011

State Board Declines to Stop Execution of Mexican National

Updated 4:40 pm: The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has voted to deny a request for reprieve from death row inmate Humberto Leal.

From the AP:

The panel voted 4-1 Tuesday to deny a reprieve request for 38-year-old Humberto. The same board refused by a 5-0 vote to commute Leal's death sentence to life in prison.

Leal's attorney issued a statement on the denial this afternoon. 

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles’ recommendation against a reprieve for Humberto Leal ignores the views of the U.S. government and Solicitor General, former diplomats, military leaders, judges and prosecutors, and organizations representing Americans abroad who believe that Mr. Leal’s execution would threaten the safety of Americans overseas and undermine the international interests of the United States. 

Earlier: State lawyers are asking the U.S. Supreme Court not to stop the execution of Mexican national Humberto Leal. The 38-year-old is scheduled to be killed on Thursday in Huntsville for the rape and murder of a 16-year-old San Antonio girl in 1994.

As KUT reported last week, Leal’s lawyers are appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court on the basis that Leal’s execution would violate an international treaty.

That’s because Leal was not made aware of his right to contact the Mexican consulate when he was arrested, a right guaranteed by the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. His lawyers argue he may never have been convicted, or sentenced to death, if he had access to legal help.

The Obama administration on Friday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block the execution, because breaching the Vienna Convention "would place the United States in irreparable breach of its international-law obligation,” according to the brief filed by the U.S. Solicitor General.

Separately, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights sent a letter to Gov. Perry, asking that he commute the sentence to life in prison, CNN reported.

Several courts - including the U.S. Supreme Court - have ruled that the United States is bound by the Vienna Convention, and foreign nationals denied consular access should have their cases reviewed. But Congress has not set up the process for those reviews. 

Vermont Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy filed a bill last month that would set up that review process. The Austin Chronicle reported on how advocates hope that legislation will save Leal’s life.

In the meantime, the state of Texas has moved forward with plans to execute Leal.

Leal's lawyers have also requested a stay of execution from Governor Perry and the state's Board of Pardons and Paroles. Neither has made a decision on that request.