The Corner

Texas Executes a Mexican National

Texas controversially executed Edgar Arias Tamayo last night, 20 years after he shot and killed police officer Guy Gaddis.

Tamayo was in the United States illegally when he murdered Gaddis — and some tried to use his immigration status as a reason to exempt him from the death penalty, as the New York Times reports today:

The case became an international issue that Mexican officials and Secretary of State John Kerry said threatened to strain relations between the two countries. Mr. Tamayo’s arrest in Houston in 1994 on charges of murdering a police officer violated the international treaty known as the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. The authorities neglected to tell him of his right under the Vienna Convention to notify Mexican diplomats.

In executing Mr. Tamayo, Texas officials disregarded an international court’s order that his case be reviewed to determine what impact the violation of his consular rights had on his conviction. That decision, made in 2004 by the World Court, the top judicial body of the United Nations, was binding on the United States under international law, Mr. Kerry had told Texas officials. No United States court had given Mr. Tamayo such a review.

Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas attorney general, Greg Abbott, had argued that the state was not directly bound by the World Court’s decision, a position backed up by rulings by the United States Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Mr. Tamayo was the third Mexican citizen that Texas had executed whose case was part of the World Court’s order.

As the debate raged about Tamayo’s execution, little was said about the murdered police officer or the fate of his widow, who was pregnant when Gaddis was killed.

In January, I interviewed Gaddis’s family about Tamayo’s execution, also writing about the legacy of the slain police officer. You can read the whole thing here.