In Death, Garza Seeks Forgiveness

ByABC News
June 18, 2001, 4:32 PM

June 19 -- Juan Raul Garza, a convicted murderer and drug kingpin, apologized and asked for forgiveness before he was executed this morning in a federal penitentiary.

Garza, 44, received the first of three drugs administered in the lethal injection at 7:06 a.m. CT and was pronounced dead at 7:09 a.m. He became the second federal inmate to die in eight days in the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind. Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was executed in the same death chamber on June 11. McVeigh was the first federal inmate put to death since 1963.

"I wish to say I'm sorry," Garza said in his final statement, according to media witnesses. "I apologize for all the pain and grief I caused. I ask for forgiveness. I ask for forgiveness and God bless."

Harley Lappin, the prison warden, said he and Garza "chatted several times" this morning before the execution, talking about friends, family and the religious counseling the inmate received in his final days.

"He was cooperative throughout the entire operation," Lappin said.

First Drug Kingpin Execution

On Monday, Garza exhausted his final hopes that his life would be spared.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to postpone Garza's execution and rejected his final legal appeals. One appeal said a jury should have been told that the alternative to a death sentence was life in prisonwithout the possibility of parole.

In another appeal, Garza's lawyers argued that his death sentence violates international human rights treaties.

Later, President Bush rejected Garza's request for clemency, setting the stage for his execution.

Garza was convicted in 1993 for killing one man and ordering the deaths of two others he believed were government informants while running a marijuana smuggling ring in Brownsville, Texas.

Garza was the first federal inmate executed under a 1988 federal drug kingpin statute.

Request for Clemency to President Bush

The Justice Department had rejected all of Garza's arguments for a stay of execution or clemency.