A Long-Delayed Execution
Twenty years ago, police officer Guy Gaddis was murdered. His killer finally faces death.

Convicted murderer Edgar Arias Tamayo (inset)


Jillian Kay Melchior

Four days before Houston police officer Guy Gaddis was murdered, he found out that his 23-year-old wife, Rose, was pregnant.

“He worked graveyards, and he would come and give me a hug and a kiss and say, you know, ‘I’ll see you in the morning,’ and at night, he would rub my stomach and tell me he loved me and kind of talk to the baby,” Rose (who is now Rose Sanchez Crittenden) tells National Review Online. The couple had earlier endured a miscarriage, and Guy longed to become a father. The night before he died, she tells NRO, “He got me out of bed, and he started dancing with me, sang ‘You Are My Sunshine’ to me. He was rubbing my stomach and telling me I was going to have a girl. . . . He sang the whole song to me when he was dancing with me in my bedroom, and he said, ‘I’m going to tuck you in.’ He tucked me into bed, and again said, ‘I love you,’ to the baby, and then he walked out the door, ran back inside, and he told me again. . . . Even though he was very affectionate, I didn’t think anything of it. . . . Later on, you know, I was kind of feeling like he knew.”

Guy Gaddis reported for work, and a little after 2 a.m., he responded to a robbery call. Four other officers eventually responded as well, and they eventually apprehended two suspects handcuffed them, and ordered them into the back of Gaddis’s car; he then transported them by himself. As the officer drove, one of the suspects twisted around in the seat, gripping a pistol he had managed to conceal, and fired six rounds from behind his back. The car crashed at high speed into a house, waking the occupants, who rushed outside to find a bloodied wreck. Guy and one of the suspects were slumped unconscious in the car; the assailant had escaped by kicking out the back left window. Guy was taken by helicopter to the hospital, and pronounced dead at 4:31 a.m., with three bullets shot into his head by Edgar Arias Tamayo, an illegal immigrant.

On January 22, 2014 — 20 years after Guy Gaddis was murdered — Tamayo is scheduled to die by lethal injection. But his case has become internationally politicized. Critics claim Tamayo was treated unfairly, an allegation deeply hurtful to the family the officer left behind.

Counterintuitively, Tamayo’s status as an illegal immigrant has worked to his benefit. His defenders claim his rights were violated because he was not advised of his right to contact the Mexican consulate. Consequently, the United Nations’ World Court has demanded that his conviction be reviewed.

Secretary of State John Kerry recently sent a letter to Governor Rick Perry and State Attorney General Greg Abbott, claiming that Tamayo’s execution would undermine the Vienna Convention and could hurt American diplomatic efforts.

“I have no reason to doubt the facts of Mr. Tamayo’s conviction, and as a former prosecutor, I have no sympathy for anyone who would murder a police officer,” Kerry wrote. However, he added, “Our consular visits help ensure U.S. citizens detained overseas have access to food and appropriate medical care, if needed, as well as access to legal representation.”

Mexico’s ambassador to the U.S. has claimed that Tamayo’s execution “has become and could continue to be a significant irritant in relations between our two countries.” In an official statement, the Mexican government says that it “deeply regrets” the court’s decision to set an execution date for Tamayo and noted that “the Foreign Ministry has expressed to the appropriate authorities the need for the United States to comply with [its] international obligations.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states have no obligation to yield to the World Court’s decisions, and Texas has announced no plans to delay the execution.

Dubious international considerations aside, the case was pretty clear-cut: Tamayo was caught fleeing down the street with Guy Gaddis’s handcuffs still around his wrists. He admitted to the murder but told investigators it was the police officers’ fault for not searching him thoroughly enough to find the .380 Bersa he had tucked into his waistband. Tamayo was afforded due process, just as if he were an American citizen. So conclusive was the evidence that a jury of his peers convicted him of capital murder after just half an hour of deliberation.

Roe Wilson, the Harris County assistant district attorney, says she can’t comment on why politicians have found it appropriate to weigh in on this case. “The fact remains that Edgar Tamayo committed a horrible offense,” Wilson says. “He shot Officer Gaddis three times in the back of the head. He had no remorse afterward.”

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Tamayo was two years older than the 24-year-old police officer he murdered, but the two men could not have been more different. While Tamayo had spent his adult years repeatedly in trouble with the law, Guy Gaddis, young as he was, had already dedicated his life to serving his family and his country.