New York Times Bemoans Killer's Execution

Texas Executes Mexican Despite Objections.” You'd think that Texas had executed some poor, honest, hard-working, migrant farm worker for not having a Green Card. The Aug. 6, Times column by James C. McKinley Jr, has more holes than our southern border.

After 14 years on death row, Texas executed convicted murderer José Ernesto Medellín on Aug. 5. After numerous reviews by Texas courts and two in the U.S. Supreme Court, Medellín's final due process hearing is in the hands of the Supreme Judge Upstairs.

The sordid story begins in Houston, Tex., on June 24, 1993, when Medellín and five fellow gang-bangers spent an hour repeatedly raping, sodomizing, and stomping to death Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pená, ages 14 and 16, before dumping their bodies in the woods. Medellín personally strangled one of the girls with her shoelaces. Arrested five days later, he signed a confession after being given his Miranda rights.

McKinley doesn't mention what Medellín did that got him executed until after he quotes Medellín's last words to those present at his execution: “I'm sorry my actions caused you pain. I hope this brings you the closure that you seek. Never harbor hate.” You just shudder to think how bad rape, sodomy, forced oral copulation, stomping, strangulation and death would be if motivated by hate.

What concerns the Times' McKinley most is addressed in his opening line. “Texas” acted, he claims, “in defiance of an international court ruling and despite pleas from the Bush administration for a new hearing.” Notice that it's an “international court ruling” that Texas supposedly defied, not the laws or courts of the United States. McKinley doesn't explain why Texas' refusal to comply with an order of a foreign court, which lacks the force and effect of domestic law, is “defiance.”

After Texas courts upheld Medellín's conviction and sentence, Mexico filed a lawsuit in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on behalf of Medellín and 50 other Mexicans on death row in various states, who were not advised upon detention of their “right” to consult the Mexican Consulate as provided under Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (Treaty).

Medellín claimed that he was a citizen of Mexico, that he had informed law enforcement officials of his Mexican citizenship when he was arrested, but that they failed to inform him of his “right to contact the Mexican Consulate.” The ICJ ruled in 2004 that the United States should reopen and reconsider the cases in order to comply with the Treaty.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that “contrary to the ICJ's determination, the Vienna Convention did not preclude the application of state default rules.” Following that decision, President George W. Bush issued a memorandum to the U.S. Attorney General stating that the United States would “discharge its international obligations” under Avena “by having State courts give effect to the decision.”

Based on the ICJ ruling and the President' memorandum, Medellín filed an application for a writ of habeas corpus in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The court held that Medellín's attorneys raised the issue too late; therefore, its procedural rules prohibited another review.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld that decision by a 6-3 vote on March 25, 2008. The Court held that the Treaty ratified by the U.S. in 1969 could not bind the states without enabling legislation enacted by Congress.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. noted that neither the defendant nor his supporters “have identified a single nation that treats ICJ judgments as binding in domestic courts.”

Justice John Paul Stevens joined in the Court's judgment, and acknowledged that Congress hadn't enacted enabling legislation. Even so, he wanted Texas to grant Medellín another hearing even though the chance that he was prejudiced by the Treaty violation was “remote.”

On Aug. 5, the Supreme Court rejected Medellín's final request for a stay of execution in a 5-4 ruling. The unsigned opinion calls the possibility of Congressional action to implement the treaty too remote to justify a stay.

McKinley, and other Times columnists who've written extensively about Medellín, fail to mention some key facts about his all-American background. Author Corey Mitchell includes them in his recently released book about Medellín, Pure Murder, and on his “In Cold Blog” post, “Media botches Jose Medellín execution coverage”:

    After examining “thousands of pages of court documents including motions, court proceedings, and confessions from all six defendants in this case. I never once came across any documentation that Medellín ever made such a claim [of being a Mexican citizen.]” His parents “legally migrated to the United States and filed the proper paperwork to become naturalized citizens. Joe's parents then sent for their young boy to come to Houston, however, they simply failed to file the proper paperwork on his behalf.” At the time of the murders, “Joe Medellín had already spent more than half of his life in the United States. He benefited from the Houston Independent School District's educational system and was considered an outstanding student at Holden Elementary where he excelled in science and math. Medellín spoke English fluently, and had a valid Texas driver's license when arrested. “Medellín never once proclaimed that he was a Mexican citizen after any of his many previous arrests.”

And then there are those “objections” to Medellín's execution McKinley mentioned. What he doesn't mention is that the good folks in Mexico are protesting Mexico's lack of a death penalty to deter murderous gangs like Medellín's who are terrorizing Mexican people daily. According to the AP: “Mexicans struggling with increasingly gruesome crimes at home devoted the least attention in recent memory to the execution of one of their citizens in Texas. … Some Mexicans on Wednesday even called for the death penalty at home.”

Here's another question for the amnesty gang at the Times. In light of Medellín's background, if he had faced deportation instead of execution, would the Times portray him as a citizen of Mexico? Or, would its headline read, “Bush Seeks Deportation of Mexican-American”?

Jan LaRue, Esq., is a member of the Culture and Media Institute's Board of Advisors.