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Jesus Ledesma AGUILAR

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Drugs
Number of victims: 2
Date of murder: June 10, 1995
Date of birth: November 28, 1963
Victims profile: Leonardo Chavez, 33, and his wife Anette Esparza Chavez, 31
Method of murder: Shooting (.22 revolver)
Location: Cameron County, Texas, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in Texas on May 24, 2006
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Summary:

Leonardo Chavez and his wife, Annette, were shot to death while staying in a Harlingen trailer home belonging to Mrs. Chavez’s brother, Rick Esparza.

The murder weapon was a .22 caliber pistol.

The couple’s 9-year-old son, Leo Jr., who witnessed the shooting, testified that he saw his parents on the floor with two men standing over them. The son said the men shot his parents.

Jesus Aguilar sold a .22 revolver after the killings, and police recovered the weapon from a member of the buyer’s family.

A police lab concluded that the bullets recovered from the victims’ bodies could have been fired from the gun.

About two weeks after the killings, Leo Jr.’s grandmother was reading the newspaper when the boy saw a picture and told her that two of the men in the picture were the ones that hurt his parents.

His grandfather took Leo Jr. to the police station where the youth identified Jesus Aguilar and Chris Quiroz as the men who shot his parents.

Testimony at the trial confirmed that Rick Esparza had been involved in illicit drug sales with Jesus Aguilar.

Aguilar, along with his nephew, Christopher Quiroz, were convicted in separate trials, with Aguilar receiving a death sentence and Quiroz got life in prison.

Aguilar had previously shot a police officer and also served 8 years in prison for Aggravated Assault on a Corrections Officer.

Citations:

Aguilar v. Dretke, 428 F.3d 526 (5th Cir. 2005) (Habeas)

Final Meal:

Enchiladas.

Final Words:

Aguilar gave a statement just before the lethal dose began to flow alternating between English and Spanish. “I would like to say to my family, I am all right,” he said, looking at his spiritual advisor, and only witness. He then turned to the victims’ families and tried to find Leonardo Chavez Jr., who witnessed the crimes 11 years ago. Leo Jr. did not witness the execution. “Where are you Leo? Are you there, Leo? Don’t lie man.” He then asked the victims’ families if they were happy he was dying. Once the lethal dose began to flow, Aguilar was cut off mid-sentence, stopping his confrontational outburst.

ClarkProsecutor.org

 
 

Inmate: Aguilar, Jesus
Date of Birth: 11/28/63
TDCJ#: 999191
Date Received: 05/13/96
Education: 11 years
Occupation: brick layer
Date of Offense: 06/10/95
County of Conviction: Cameron
Race: Hispanic
Gender: Male
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Brown
Height: 5 ft 09 in
Weight: 185

 
 

Texas Attorney General Media Advisory

MEDIA ADVISORY - Thursday, May 18, 2006 - Jesus Aguilar Scheduled For Execution

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott offers the following information about Jesus Ledesma Aguilar, who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 24, 2006.

A Cameron County jury sentenced Aguilar to death for the June 1995 shooting deaths of Leonardo Chavez and his wife, Annette.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

Leonardo Chavez and his wife, Annette, were shot to death on June 10, 1995, while staying in a Harlingen trailer home belonging to Mrs. Chavez’s brother, Rick Esparza.

The murder weapon was a .22 caliber pistol. The couple’s 9-year-old son, Leo Jr., who witnessed the shooting, testified that he saw his parents on the floor with two men standing over them. The son said the men shot his parents.

Jesus Aguilar sold a .22 revolver after the killings, and police recovered the weapon from a member of the buyer’s family. A police lab concluded that the bullets recovered from the victims’ bodies could have been fired from the gun.

About two weeks after the killings, Leo Jr.’s grandmother was reading the newspaper when the boy saw a picture and told her that two of the men in the picture were the ones that hurt his parents.

His grandfather took Leo Jr. to the police station where the youth identified Jesus Aguilar and Chris Quiroz as the men who shot his parents. Testimony at the trial indicted that Rick Esparza had been involved in illicit drug sales with Jesus Aguilar.

CRIMINAL HISTORY

During the trial, the prosecution presented evidence that revealed Aguilar’s violent history. A Lubbock County police officer testified that he arrested Aguilar on August 14, 1983, for burglary of a building at a used car lot which had been broken into and ransacked.

The officer arrested Aguilar in an adjacent field, where Aguilar had some tools taken from the building and nineteen car keys.

Another Lubbock County peace officer testified that, on September 3, 1983, he attempted to apprehend Aguilar on a burglary warrant, and that Aguilar shot the officer in the leg and chest. The officer survived. Several prison guards testified about Aguilar’s violent assaults on guards and inmates in a Texas state prison.

The prosecution introduced a judgment of conviction and eight-year sentence Aguilar received on January 23, 1984, for aggravated assault on a correctional officer.

Several individuals testified about Aguilar’s violent assaults against guards and prisoners while in the Lubbock County Jail. The State’s evidence also revealed assaults Aguilar committed outside jail.

In addition, the prosecution produced evidence that Aguilar is a confirmed member of a prison gang whose primary goal is to control all narcotics trafficking in the South and Southwest.

A Houston police narcotics officer described the gang as “the most feared, fiercest, and deadliest of all the gangs.”

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

  • 06/10/95 -- Aguilar murdered Leonardo Chavez and his wife, Annette.

  • 08/23/95 -- A Cameron County grand jury indicted Aguilar for capital murder.

  • 04/30/96 -- Aguilar was convicted of capital murder.

  • 05/02/96 -- The jury answered the special issues in a manner which resulted in Aguilar being sentenced to death.

  • 05/07/96 -- Aguilar was formally sentenced to death by a Cameron County state district judge.

  • 07/26/96 -- The trial court denied Aguilar’s motion for a new trial.

  • 02/05/97 -- Aguilar filed a direct appeal raising 10 points of error.

  • 06/18/97 -- The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Aguilar’s conviction and sentence.

  • 07/07/97 -- Aguilar asked for a rehearing of the Texas court’s opinion on direct appeal.

  • 09/09/97 -- While his direct appeal was pending, Aguilar filed a state habeas application raising 21 claims.

  • 10/15/97 -- The Court of Criminal Appeals denied Aguilar’s amended motion for rehearing.

  • 10/29/97 -- The Court of Criminal Appeals withdrew its original opinion and issues a new opinion affirming Aguilar’s conviction and sentence.

  • 11/12/97 -- Aguilar filed another motion for rehearing of the Texas court’s decision on direct appeal.

  • 03/27/98 -- The appeals court denied Aguilar’s motion for rehearing on direct appeal.

  • 05/26/98 -- The U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari review.

  • 06/10/98 -- The Court of Criminal Appeals denied relief on Aguilar’s state writ.

  • 05/28/99 -- Aguilar filed his federal habeas corpus petition in a U.S. District Court.

  • 06/09/99 -- Aguilar amended his federal writ, raising a total of 25 claims.

  • 06/15/00 -- At an evidentiary hearing, Aguilar asked the federal district court to dismiss his writ petition so that he could return to state court.

  • 06/20/00 -- The district court dismissed Aguilar’s federal habeas petition.

  • 08/25/00 -- Aguilar filed a successive state habeas application raising 8 claims.

  • 11/21/01 -- The Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed Aguilar’s successive state habeas application as an abuse of the writ.

  • 11/26/01 -- Aguilar filed his federal habeas petition, which he later supplemented, raising a total of 25 claims.

  • 05/27/04 -- A federal district judge denied relief on Aguilar’s claims.

  • 06/25/04 -- Aguilar applied for a certificate of appealability (“COA”).

  • 12/09/04 -- The federal district court granted a COA on one claim and denied a COA on the remaining issues.

  • 03/11/05 -- Aguilar filed his brief on the merits in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He also filed an Application for COA.

  • 10/12/05 -- The 5th Circuit Court affirmed the federal district court’s denial of habeas relief.

  • 12/13/05 -- The 5th Circuit Court denied Aguilar’s petition for rehearing.

  • 01/09/06 -- A state district court scheduled Aguilar’s execution for Wednesday, May 24, 2006.

  • 03/10/06 -- Aguilar asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the 5th Circuit Court’s opinion.

  • 05/15/06 -- The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the 5th Circuit Court’s decision.

 
 

Aguilar taunts victims’ families, denies killings

By Tori Brock - Itemonline.com

Not only did Jesus Aguilar not show remorse before his death Wednesday night, he mocked his victim’s families and gave a “shout-out” to his fellow gang members.

Aguilar, along with his nephew, Christopher Quiroz, were convicted in separate trials for the June 10, 1995, execution-style shooting deaths of Leonardo Chavez Sr., 33, and his wife, Annette, 31. Aguilar was sentenced to death while Quiroz got life in prison.

While Aguilar, 42, had admitted he smuggled marijuana from South Texas to Mississippi, he denied murdering his ex-partner’s sister and her husband because of a drug dispute. “I had nothing to do with this. I was at home” at the time of the killings, he said in a recent interview on death row. “These people, they railroaded me left and right.”

But Aguilar was unaware that the 9-year-old son of the victims watched from underneath a kitchen table as his parents were shot.

Leonardo Chavez Jr. testified at the trials of both Aguilar and Quiroz that he saw the men kill his parents. His 22-month-old brother was asleep in another room. Neither child was harmed during the killings.

Aguilar gave a statement just before the lethal dose began to flow alternating between English and Spanish. “I would like to say to my family, I am all right,” he said, looking at his spiritual advisor, and only witness. He then turned to the victims’ families and tried to find Leonardo Chavez Jr., who witnessed the crimes 11 years ago.

Leo Jr. did not witness the execution. “Where are you Leo,” Aguilar asked. “Are you there, Leo? Don’t lie man.” He then asked the victims’ families if they were happy he was dying. Once the lethal dose began to flow, Aguilar was cut off mid-sentence, stopping his confrontational outburst.

Michelle Lyons, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said it’s not often inmates have outbursts. “It is more rare that the process begins in the midst of an inmate’s last statements, but when they become verbally abusive or confrontational with the victim’s family, the warden may exercise the option to begin the lethal dose,” she said. “That’s an option that appeared to have been exercised this evening.”

Aguilar was pronounced dead at 6:32 p.m., 14 minutes after the lethal dose began.

After witnessing the execution, the families of Leonardo and Annette Chavez said they were glad justice had been served, though they did have some issues. “We did not get to say what we needed to say,” Monica Medrano, Annette’s niece, said. “He got to sit there and say what he needed to say. The way the system works is wrong.”

Sulerna Esparza Medrano, Monica’s mother and sister to Annette, worked on a statement with Monica, which Monica read after the execution. “When you committed this brutal crime, you took away a loving mommy and daddy from two precious children whose lives have been shattered forever,” Monica read through clenched teeth. “So now, we are here today as the tables have turned and it’s your turn to die.”

Explaining how loving and loved Annette was to her family, Monica began to break down, saying, “If she didn’t know you and you were starving on the streets, her and Leo would open the doors to their hearts and help you the best way they knew how.”

Once Monica finished reading the Esparza family statement, Leonardo’s brother, Nicolas Chavez, gave a statement. “We are all going to have to live with that tremendous tragedy, my brother’s and favorite sister-in-law’s untimely death,” he said. “I am here to see final justice even though to some of us, it may never be enough, since we lost a couple of very dear and loved family members.

“The gravy train has come to the end of the road for Jesus Ledesma Aguilar,” Chavez said, “but not before he and his nephew Christopher Aguilar Quiroz committed their heinous crime 11 years ago and completely destroyed the lives of my nephews and our family’s as well.”

Once the statements were read, both families began to talk about Aguilar’s outburst. “I’ve never seen such an evil look,” Chavez said. “When he started to talk all that smack, he showed his true colors.” Monica agreed, saying, “When he turned, you could literally see the spawn of evil in his eyes.”

According to court records, Aguilar and Annette Chavez’s brother, Rick Esparza, were friends who started smuggling marijuana in November 1994 from their homes in South Texas to Mississippi.

After Esparza began smuggling drugs for another supplier, Aguilar threatened to kill him if he didn’t stop. While Esparza and his wife delivered a load of drugs to Mississippi in June 1995, his sister and her family agreed to stay and watch his Harlingen-area mobile home.

Aguilar and his nephew spent most of the afternoon and evening of June 9, 1995, drinking. They then went to Esparza’s mobile home early the next morning and killed the Chavezes, prosecutors said.

Authorities said Aguilar was a member of the prison gang the Texas Syndicate, and had a violent history, including wounding a Lubbock County police officer during a 1983 shooting and assaulting guards and other inmates while in the state prison system.

At the trials, the Chavezes son, now 20, told jurors he was awakened at 5 a.m. by a loud noise. He went into the kitchen and saw his parents on the floor. His father was holding a napkin to his bleeding nose.

He then watched as his parents were shot in the head. “I know it affects him still,” said Nicolas Chavez Jr., brother of the victim. “He tries to see life in a positive way and tries to keep going.”

Aguilar, however, said Leonardo Chavez Jr. was “coached” to say he saw the condemned inmate and his nephew kill the Chavez couple. “They’re killing me for something they know they lied about,” he said.

 
 

S. Texas man executed for drug-related slayings

Dallasnews.com

Associated Press - Wednesday, May 24, 2006

HUNTSVILLE, Texas – A prison gang member was executed Wednesday for the drug-related slayings of a Harlingen couple after he tried to start an argument with the victims' family, prompting prison officials to cut his final statement short.

Jesus Ledesma Aguilar was the 10th prisoner put to death this year in Texas and the third of three this month.

Jesus Ledesma Aguilar"Aguilar made eye contact with members of the victims' family and asked whether they were happy he was being executed. "I didn't kill your father," he said to someone he mistakenly thought was the son who witnessed the crime. Some of the family members began crying.

Prison officials stopped Aguilar's statement after several minutes. He was pronounced dead at 6:32 p.m. CDT, seven minutes after he was given a lethal injection.

Aguilar, along with his nephew, Christopher Quiroz, were convicted in separate trials for the June 10, 1995, execution-style shooting deaths of Leonardo Chavez Sr., 33, and his wife, Annette, 31. Aguilar was sentenced to death while Quiroz got life in prison.

The condemned inmate's attorneys had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block his execution, claiming he was not given a chance to challenge information used at his trial from an alleged accomplice.

The high court refused on a 5-4 vote. Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer supported the stay request.

While Aguilar, 42, had admitted he smuggled marijuana from South Texas to Mississippi, he denied murdering his ex-partner's sister and her husband because of a drug dispute. "I had nothing to do with this. I was at home" at the time of the killings, he said in a recent interview on death row. "These people, they railroaded me left and right."

But Aguilar was unaware that the 9-year-old son of the victims watched from underneath a kitchen table as his parents were shot. Leonardo Chavez Jr. testified at the trials of both Aguilar and Quiroz that he saw the men kill his parents. His younger brother was asleep in another room.

Chavez Jr. did not attend the execution. Aguilar's last remarks were mistakenly addressed to Martin Saucedo, a stepbrother of Annette Chavez. At one point, Saucedo told Aguilar, "I'm not Leo." Other family members told him not to respond to Aguilar.

After the execution, the victims' family members read statements they had wanted to read to Aguilar, but were not allowed by prison officials. "We did not get to say what we needed to say to him," said Monica Medrano, 27, Annette Chavez's niece. "I feel that is very, very unjustifiable how he sat there and got to say whatever he needed to say when we got here with a pure heart and he said what he said."

Nicolas Chavez Jr., brother of the victim and uncle of Leo Jr., said he couldn't believe Aguilar refused to admit his guilt. "When he started to talk all that smack and deny everything, he showed his true colors," he said.

No relatives of Aguilar attended the execution. At the beginning of his statement, he told his spiritual adviser, "I'm all right," and also in Spanish referenced members of the Texas Syndicate, a prison gang he belonged to, telling them to not be depressed by his death.

According to court records, Aguilar and Annette Chavez's brother, Rick Esparza, were friends who started smuggling marijuana in November 1994 from their homes in South Texas to Mississippi.

After Esparza began smuggling drugs for another supplier, Aguilar threatened to kill him if he didn't stop. While Esparza and his wife delivered a load of drugs to Mississippi in June 1995, his sister and her family agreed to stay and watch his Harlingen-area mobile home.

Aguilar and his nephew spent most of the afternoon and evening of June 9, 1995, drinking. They then went to Esparza's mobile home early the next morning and killed the Chavezes, prosecutors said.

Authorities said Aguilar had a violent history, including wounding a Lubbock County police officer during a 1983 shooting and assaulting guards and other inmates while in the state prison system.

At the trials, the Chavez son, now 20, told jurors he was awakened at 5 a.m. by a loud noise. He went into the kitchen and saw his parents on the floor. His father was holding a napkin to his bleeding nose.

He then watched as his parents were shot in the head. "I know it affects him still," said Nicolas Chavez. "He tries to see life in a positive way and tries to keep going."

Aguilar, however, said Leonardo Chavez Jr. was "coached" to say he saw the condemned inmate and his nephew kill the Chavez couple. "They're killing me for something they know they lied about," he said.

 
 

Valley murderer executed

By Fernando Del Valle - Brownsvilleherald.com

May 25, 2006

HUNTSVILLE — As his eyes gleamed over his searing last words, Jesus Ledesma Aguilar taunted his victims’ family Wednesday before the prison warden cut him off, ordering lethal chemicals be pumped into his veins. “If the devil could look like someone, he looks like that,” Nicolas Chavez Jr. said after he watched Aguilar, 42, die nearly 11 years after he killed Leonardo and Annette Chavez. “I have never seen anyone so evil in my life,” said Chavez, Leonardo Chavez’s brother.

As he stared into an overhead light, Aguilar evoked the Texas Syndicate, his prison gang. “I would like to say to my family, I’m all right,” Aguilar said. “I’m not letting it get me down. La raza Tejana ... don’t let the flag fall.”

Then, Aguilar jerked his head to gaze into the glass-enclosed room where the victims’ family stood without Leonardo Chavez Jr., the son of the victims who had watched their deaths from beneath a kitchen table and whose “flashbacks” forced him to stay away.

On June 10, 1995, Leonardo Chavez Jr. was 9 when he hid under the kitchen table to watch Aguilar and his nephew, Christopher Quiroz, shoot his parents in what prosecutors called a drug-related murder. “Are you happy?” Aguilar asked the family. “Are you all happy?”

Then, Aguilar demanded to talk with Leonardo Chavez Jr. “Who is Leo?” Aguilar asked. “Where is Leo?” Aguilar gazed at Martin Saucedo, Annette Chavez’s step-brother. “Are you Leo?” he asked.

When Saucedo said no, Aguilar called him a liar. “Why do you tell lies, vato?” he asked Saucedo. “Don’t lie, man. I didn’t kill your boss.”

Sulema Espara Rivera, Annette Chavez’s big sister, cried as she clutched her daughter Monica Medrano. As Aguilar rifled his last words, Warden Charles O’Reilly ordered the executioner to pump the lethal chemicals into his veins.

Suddenly, Aguilar gasped, then he grunted before he lay silent, his eyes shut under the light’s glare. Seven minutes later, at 6:32 p.m., a doctor pronounced him dead.

“When he turned, you could see the spawning of evil in his eyes,” Medrano said after the execution. Chavez fought back tears as he read from a written statement after the execution. “His time has come, and as my nephew said to me two days ago, ‘Tio Nic, he (Aguilar) now has to pay for what he did to my par-ents and for leaving us orphans,’” Chavez said, quoting his nephew who didn’t want to see Aguilar because the “flashbacks” tor-mented him. “This is a little difficult for me to say, but I forgive Aguilar and Quiroz for what they did, and may God have mercy on their souls,” Chavez said as he wiped tears from his eyes.

Behind dark sunglasses, Medrano’s voice turned harsh as she read a statement to reporters. “When you committed this brutal crime, you took away a loving mommy and a daddy from two precious children whose lives have been shattered forever,” she said. “The only question that runs through my mind is how could you be so heartless? ... You may have killed Annie, but you did not and cannot kill the memories that will live in our hearts forever. For many of us, when we close our eyes we can still see Annie’s pre-cious smile. She is gone but not forgotten.”

Aguilar told his family not to watch him die, said Michelle Lyons, spokeswoman for the state Department of Criminal Justice. “The inmate indicated to the warden that his family not come to the execution,” Lyons told reporters.

Earlier, Aguilar said the prison chaplain “irritated” him, Lyons said. “There will not be a chaplain. He did not want any interaction with the prison chaplain,” Lyons said before the execution. “Apparently he told the chaplain, ‘You’re presence annoys me.’”

Aguilar will be buried in the prison cemetery, a few blocks from the execution room, Lyons said. “The family elected not to claim the body,” she said.

 
 

Valley Man Executed Denies Role in Double Murder

Team4news.com

May 25, 2006

HUNTSVILLE - A prison gang member was executed in the Texas death chamber in Huntsville for the drug-related slayings of a Harlingen couple nearly eleven years ago.

Jesus Ledesma Aguilar was executed Wednesday for the June 10, 1995, murders of Leonardo Chavez Sr., 33, and his wife, Annette, 31.

Aguilar, along with his nephew, Christopher Quiroz, were convicted in separate trials for the execution-style shooting deaths. Quiroz got life in prison.

The condemned inmate's attorneys had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block his execution, claiming he was not given a chance to challenge information used at his trial that an investigator obtained from Quiroz. The high court refused on a 5-4 vote Wednesday afternoon.

Aguilar, 42, was pronounced dead at 6:32 p.m. CDT, seven minutes after he was given a lethal injection. He was the 10th prisoner put to death this year in Texas and the third of three this month in the nation's busiest capital punishment state.

In his confrontational last statement, Aguilar looked directly at his victims' family members and asked whether they were happy he was being executed.

Aguilar directed his comments to one of the family members whom he mistook for Leonardo Chavez Jr., who as a 9-year-old boy watched from underneath a kitchen table as his parents were shot by the condemned inmate and his nephew.

Chavez Jr. did not attend the execution. "Don't lie man. I can't ask you to forgive me because I wasn't the one," Aguilar said in English and Spanish. Throughout his statement he kept asking for Chavez Jr., who is now 20 years old.

Some of the family members began crying. Prison officials stopped Aguilar's statement after several minutes and began the lethal dose. While he admitted he smuggled marijuana from South Texas to Mississippi, Aguilar denied murdering his ex-partner's sister and her husband because of a drug dispute.

After the execution, the victims' family members read statements they had wanted to read to Aguilar, but were not allowed by prison officials. "We did not get to say what we needed to say to him," said Monica Medrano, 27, Annette Chavez's niece. "I feel that is very, very unjustifiable how he sat there and got to say whatever he needed to say when we got here with a pure heart and he said what he said."

Nicolas Chavez said he couldn't believe Aguilar refused to admit his guilt. "When he started to talk all that smack and deny everything, he showed his true colors," he said.

No relatives of Aguilar attended the execution. At the beginning of his statement, he told his spiritual adviser, "I'm all right." In Spanish, he referenced members of the Texas Syndicate, a prison gang he belonged to, telling them to not be depressed by his death.

Others on Death Row

There are more than a dozen other Valley men currently on death row. Ten are from Hidalgo County and four from Cameron County. There are none from Willacy or Starr County. Seven others from the Valley have already been executed - five from Cameron County and two from Hidalgo County.

 
 

Prison gang member executed in killings of Harlingen couple

Final statement cut when he spars with victims' kin

By Juan Lozano - Houston Chronicle

Associated Press - May 25, 2006

HUNTSVILLE - A prison gang member was executed Wednesday for the drug-related slayings of a Harlingen couple but not before he tried to start an argument with the victims' family, prompting officials to cut his final statement short.

Jesus Ledesma Aguilar made eye contact with members of the victims' family and asked whether they were happy he was being executed. "I didn't kill your father," he said to someone he mistakenly thought was the son who witnessed the crime.

Some of the family members began crying. Prison officials stopped Aguilar's statement after several minutes. He was pronounced dead at 6:32 p.m. CDT, seven minutes after he was given a lethal injection.

Aguilar and his nephew, Christopher Quiroz, were convicted in separate trials for the June 10, 1995, shootings of Leonardo Chavez Sr., 33, and his wife, Annette, 31. Aguilar was sentenced to death while Quiroz got life in prison.

The condemned inmate's attorneys had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block his execution, claiming he was not given a chance to challenge information from an alleged accomplice that was used at his trial.

The high court refused on a 5-4 vote. Aguilar, 42, was the 10th prisoner put to death this year in Texas.

Aguilar admitted he smuggled marijuana from South Texas to Mississippi but denied killing his ex-partner's sister and her husband. "I had nothing to do with this. I was at home" at the time of the killings, he said in a recent interview on death row.

But Aguilar was unaware that the 9-year-old son of the victims watched from underneath a kitchen table as his parents were shot. Leonardo Chavez Jr. testified at the trials of both Aguilar and Quiroz that he saw the men kill his parents.

Chavez Jr. did not attend the execution. Aguilar's last remarks were mistakenly addressed to Martin Saucedo, a stepbrother of Annette Chavez. At one point, Saucedo told Aguilar, "I'm not Leo." Other family members told him not to respond to Aguilar. No relatives of Aguilar attended the execution.

According to court records, Aguilar and Annette Chavez's brother, Rick Esparza, were friends who started smuggling marijuana in November 1994 from South Texas to Mississippi. After Esparza began smuggling drugs for another supplier, Aguilar threatened to kill him if he didn't stop.

While Esparza and his wife delivered a load of drugs to Mississippi in June 1995, his sister and her family agreed to stay and watch his Harlingen-area mobile home. Aguilar and his nephew went to Esparza's mobile home and killed the Chavezes, prosecutors said.

Authorities said Aguilar was a member of the prison gang the Texas Syndicate and had a violent history, including wounding a Lubbock County police officer in 1983.

 
 

Execution silences Valley killer

By Jesse Bogan - San Antonio Express

May 25, 2006

HUNTSVILLE — Strapped to a gurney, Jesus Ledesma Aguilar maintained his innocence Wednesday, until a lethal injection cut off his final, taunting words. "Are you all happy, you happy chief?" asked Aguilar, looking to where members of the murder victims' families watched behind a glass as he lay restrained by leather straps. "I can't ask you to forgive me because I wasn't the one," he said, apparently directing his words to Leonardo Chavez Jr., who at 9 told police he saw Aguilar and his nephew Christopher Quiroz shoot his parents execution-style in a trailer home in 1995 near Harlingen.

Chavez Jr., now 20, didn't attend the execution, but family members of the slain couple — Annette, 31, and Leonardo, 33 — were outraged at the final words, which came in a mixture of Spanish and English.

Huntsville Unit Warden Charles O'Reilly silently requested the start of the lethal dosage, cutting off Aguilar's speech, which included praise to the Texas Syndicate prison gang he was a member of.

The victims' family later said they were angry because they didn't have the opportunity to verbally assail Aguilar, 42, for leaving two young boys without parents. "When you committed this brutal crime you took away a loving mommy and a daddy from two precious children whose lives have been shattered forever," Annette's sister, Sulema Esparza Rivera, said in a statement. "When he started to talk all that smack and denied everything, he showed his true colors," said Nicolas Chavez Jr., the victim's brother, describing Aguilar as the devil. "The only thing is, he didn't have any horns on his head."

Aguilar requested that a chaplain not attend, only a warden stood at the head of the gurney placed in the center of a small execution chamber bordered by lime green bars.

Seven minutes after the lethal injection stopped Aguilar in a gargle of words, a physician shined a red light in his eyes, checked for a pulse and then pulled a white sheet over his head at 6:32 p.m. He was the 10th person executed in Texas so far this year. Fifteen more are planned.

Cameron County prosecutors convinced a jury that Aguilar orchestrated the killing of the Chavez couple on June 10, 1995, while they were house-sitting for relatives on a drug run.

Police found 20 pounds of marijuana in the trailer after the killings. Quiroz received a life sentence. Aguilar, who was previously convicted of shooting a peace officer near Lubbock, was accused of carrying out the killings because he was betrayed.

A former partner in crime, Rick Esparza, who lived at the trailer, had started running marijuana to Mississippi without him, according to testimony. Aguilar shot Annette Chavez, Esparza's sister, in the back of the neck. Quiroz shot her husband.

Court-appointed defense attorneys argued in various appeals that Aguilar was denied a fair sentence because the jury wasn't given the option to consider murder, which comes with a maximum life sentence. Appeals courts ruled otherwise.

On death row, Aguilar, formerly a bricklayer, lived in a 60-square foot cell and was denied radio privileges because of disciplinary reasons. Guards delivered three squares of prison food a day to his cell; he requested enchiladas for his last meal Wednesday.

His two youngest daughters, Jessica, 12, and Vanessa, 10, made the 400-mile trip from the Rio Grande Valley to Livingston several times to see him. Typically on visits, the girls and other family members would buy him Mountain Dew soda, Lays potato chips, and Snickers bars from vending machines.

Neither of the girls ever touched their father. They knew him by talking to him via a black telephone receiver, peering through a glass wall.

On the girls' last visit May 12, Aguilar showed them how to shoot a basketball, but without the ball. The girls recalled the visit last week while playing volleyball in the front yard of their grandmother's home in the tiny town of Primera.

At the home, the family has a picture that Aguilar drew of a cross with a rose on it. Written across the top is the phrase "May your day be blessed," and written on the back, "All we are is dust in the wind."

The two young daughters said they look forward to the possibility of having quinceañeras, 15th birthday parties traditionally celebrated by young Hispanic women, which their father spoke about on their last visit. Jessica Aguilar said he told them he'd watch over them in spirit.

None of his family members, however, attended his execution. The family elected not to claim his body, and he will be buried in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison cemetery, a few blocks from where he was executed.

 
 

Officials halt statement, execute killer

By Juan Lozano - Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Associated Press - May. 25, 2006

HUNTSVILLE -- Prison authorities cut short the final statement of the inmate who was executed Wednesday evening after he tried to antagonize the victims' relatives, who were watching from a room adjoining the death chamber.

Jesus Ledesma Aguilar, 42, looked directly at the family members and asked whether they were happy he was being executed. "I didn't kill your father," he said to a man he mistakenly thought was a son who had testified against him. Aguilar went on for several minutes, and some of the family members began crying.

None of Aguilar's relatives attended the execution. At the beginning of his statement, Aguilar told his spiritual adviser, "I'm all right," and also in Spanish made reference to the Texas Syndicate, a prison gang he belonged to, telling them to not be depressed by his death. After his statement was stopped, Aguilar was pronounced dead at 6:32 p.m.

Aguilar and his nephew spent most of June 9 drinking, prosecutors said. They went to Esparza's home early the next morning and killed the Chavezes, prosecutors said. They did not know that 9-year-old Leonardo Chavez Jr. was watching from under a kitchen table as his parents were shot.

The boy testified at the trials of both Aguilar and Quiroz that he saw the men kill his parents. Aguilar was sentenced to death; Quiroz got life in prison.

Chavez did not attend the execution. Aguilar's last remarks were mistakenly addressed to Martin Saucedo, a stepbrother of Annette Chavez. Aguilar's attorneys had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block his execution, saying he was not given a chance to challenge information used at his trial.

The high court refused, 5-4. Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer supported the stay request.

In a recent interview, Aguilar said, "I had nothing to do with this. I was at home" at the time of the killings.

 
 

ProDeathPenalty.com

Leonardo Chavez and his wife, Annette, were shot to death on June 10, 1995, while staying in a Harlingen trailer home belonging to Annette’s brother. The murder weapon was a .22 caliber pistol.

The couple’s 9-year-old son, who witnessed the shooting, said he was awakened by a scuffle around 5:30 a.m. He said he watched from the kitchen as Quiroz shot his beaten father in the living room, then handed the gun to Ledesma, who shot his mother.

Dressed for bed, both were shot in the back of the neck and died on the living room carpet near a large television and ceramic geese.

Jesus Ledesma Aguilar sold a .22 revolver after the killings, and police recovered the weapon from a member of the buyer’s family. A police lab concluded that the bullets recovered from the victims’ bodies could have been fired from the gun.

About two weeks after the killings, the couple's orphaned son saw a picture in the newspaper and told his grandmother that two of the men in the picture were the ones that hurt his parents. His grandfather took Leo Jr. to the police station where the youth identified Jesus Aguilar and Chris Quiroz as the men who shot his parents.

Testimony at the trial indicted that the owner of the trailer had been involved in illicit drug sales with Jesus Aguilar. During the trial, the prosecution presented evidence that revealed Aguilar’s violent history.

A Lubbock County police officer testified that he arrested Aguilar on August 14, 1983, for burglary of a building at a used car lot which had been broken into and ransacked. The officer arrested Aguilar in an adjacent field, where Aguilar had some tools taken from the building and nineteen car keys.

Another Lubbock County peace officer testified that, on September 3, 1983, he attempted to apprehend Aguilar on a burglary warrant, and that Aguilar shot the officer in the leg and chest. The officer survived. Several prison guards testified about Aguilar’s violent assaults on guards and inmates in a Texas state prison.

The prosecution introduced a judgment of conviction and eight-year sentence Aguilar received on January 23, 1984, for aggravated assault on a correctional officer. Several individuals testified about Aguilar’s violent assaults against guards and prisoners while in the Lubbock County Jail. The State’s evidence also revealed assaults Aguilar committed outside jail.

In addition, the prosecution produced evidence that Aguilar is a confirmed member of a prison gang whose primary goal is to control all narcotics trafficking in the South and Southwest. A Houston police narcotics officer described the gang as “the most feared, fiercest, and deadliest of all the gangs.”

Leonardo Chavez III is now a young man of 20 and plans to witness the execution of the man who killed his parents before his eyes. "I want to see him die. They had no reason to do that to my parents," said Chavez. "My parents were on their knees, and I just saw them get blown away."

 
 

Txexecutions.org

Jesus Ledesma Aguilar, 42, was executed by lethal injection on 24 May 2006 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder and robbery of a couple in their home.

Rick Esparza was a drug dealer in Harlingen who made money transporting marijuana from his home to Mississippi.

Esparza had started in the drug business in November 1994 as an employee of his lifelong friend, Jesus Aguilar, but their relationship soon soured after Esparza began transporting drugs to Mississippi for another supplier.

Reportedly, Esparza came to Aguilar's home and threatened his life. Esparza often asked his sister, Annette Chavez, and her family to stay in his trailer home while he and his wife were out of town.

On 8 June 1995, Esparza and his wife left for Mississippi with a load of drugs. Annette Chavez, her husband Leonardo, and their children Leo Jr., 9, and Lincoln, 22 months, stayed in the trailer.

At about 5:00 a.m. on 10 June, after a night of drinking, Aguilar, then 31, and his nephew, Christopher Quiroz, 17, entered the trailer home and shot Mr. and Mrs. Chavez with a .22-caliber pistol.

Both victims were also severely beaten. Leonardo was shot in the back of the head, and Annette was shot through the neck. Unknown to the killers, Leo Jr. hid under a kitchen table and watched. Lincoln was asleep in his room. Police found 20 pounds of marijuana in the trailer.

About two weeks after the killings, Leo Jr. saw a picture in the newspaper his grandmother was reading. He told her that two of the men in the picture were the ones who shot his parents.

At Aguilar's trial, Leo Jr. testified that he was awakened by gunfire on the morning of the murders. He said that he got out of bed and went into the kitchen. From there, he saw his parents on the floor with two men standing over them.

He testified he heard Quiroz tell his father to "get your fat ass up," and then Quiroz shot him. He then saw Aguilar take the gun from Quiroz and shoot his mother.

Aguilar had a prior conviction for attempted capital murder. He began serving a 10-year sentence in December 1984. The offense was later reduced to aggravated assault, and his sentence was reduced to 8 years. He completed his sentence and was discharged in March 1993.

In September 1983, Aguilar shot a police officer in the leg and chest. The officer survived. Several prison guards and jail employees testified to Aguilar's violent nature, and his assaults on guards and other prisoners.

A jury convicted Aguilar of capital murder in April 1996. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence in June 1997.

All of his subsequent appeals in state and federal court were denied. Christopher Aguilar Quiroz was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison. He remains in custody as of this writing.

"I had nothing to do with this, Aguilar said in an interview from death row. "I was at home ... These people, they railroaded me left and right." Aguilar said that Leo Jr. was coached to testify against him and Quiroz. "They're killing me for something they know they lied about," he said.

"Are you all happy? You happy, chief?" Aguilar asked the victims' relatives who witnessed his execution. "I didn't kill your father," Aguilar told Annette Chavez's stepbrother, who he mistook for Leo Jr., who did not attend. The stepbrother answered back "I'm not Leo." The other family members requested that he not respond to Aguilar anymore.

Aguilar continued addressing the family angrily, in a mixture of English and Spanish, and praising the Texas Syndicate prison gang he was a member of. The warden signaled the executioner to release the lethal injection. Aguilar was still talking when he lost consciousness. He was pronounced dead at 6:32 p.m.

 
 

Democracyinaction.org

Jesus Aguilar, TX - May 24

Do Not Execute Jesus Aguilar!

The state of Texas is scheduled to execute Jesus Aguilar, a latino man, on May 24, 2006 for the capital murder of Leonardo Chavez and his wife, Annette Chavez in the Palm Vista Estates of Harlingen.

The Chavez’s had been house-sitting for a friend of Aguilar’s, Rick Esparza, who worked with Aguilar in the sale of marijuana. Tension between the two men arose when Esparza began dealing without Aguilar.

On June 9, 1995 Aguilar, along with his nephew, David Quiroz, entered the trailer and shot Leonardo and Annette. During the shooting, one of the couple’s sons was asleep in another room, while the other hid beneath a kitchen table.

Aguilar’s conviction for capital murder, as opposed to a lesser, non-capital murder, is contingent upon the fact that he allegedly committed two murders during the same transaction.

Moreover, in capital cases it is constitutionally required that the jury be instructed of a lesser included offense charge “…when the evidence unquestionably establishes that the defendant is guilty of a serious violent offense—but leaves some doubt with respect to an element that would justify conviction of a capital offense….”

However, the judge that presided over Aguilar’s trial refused his request that the jury be made aware of this constitutional requirement, thereby violating Aguilar’s Fourteenth Amendment right to due process of law.

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Aguilar’s claim with respect to this issue notwithstanding the testimony of the victims’ nine-year-old son, who witnessed the crime, which states that Aguilar shot his father, while Esparza shot his mother.

While the there is little question as to whether or not Aguilar participated in the murder of Annette, there is some doubt that Aguilar can be held culpable for Leonardo’s death. If Quiroz acted alone, without encouragement or participation of Aguilar, then Aguilar should not have been sentenced to death. Aguilar’s death sentence is dubious at best. For this and other reasons, we should not execute Jesus Ledusma Aguilar.

 
 

Aguilar v. Dretke, 428 F.3d 526 (5th Cir. 2005) (Habeas)

Background: Petitioner sought federal habeas relief from state court conviction for capital murder. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Hilda G. Tagle, J., denied petition. Petitioner appealed.

Holdings: The Court of Appeals, W. Eugene Davis, Circuit Judge, held that:
(1) petitioner was not entitled to instruction on lesser-included non-capital offense;
(2) petitioner's ineffective assistance of counsel claims and his claim that the state appellate court was biased were procedurally barred from review;
(3) petitioner was not entitled to certificate of appealability (COA) on his claim that state trial court's failure to appoint ballistics expert to testify on his behalf violated his due process rights;
(4) sufficiency of evidence to support finding that defendant participated in murder of two victims during same transaction was not debatable, precluding grant of COA; and
(5) petitioner's claim that his right to due process was violated because he appeared before the jury in shackles was procedurally defaulted. Judgment affirmed, and certificate of appealability denied.

W. EUGENE DAVIS, Circuit Judge:

Petitioner, Jesus Ledesma Aguilar (Aguilar), was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in Texas state court for the murders of Annette and Leonardo Chavez, Sr. In this appeal, Aguilar challenges the district court's dismissal of his habeas petition.

Aguilar seeks COA on six claims on which relief was denied by the district court. He also seeks reversal on the merits of the single claim on which the district court granted COA. For the reasons discussed below, we deny habeas relief on that claim. We also deny COA on the remaining claims.

Petitioner was convicted in Texas state court of capital murder for intentionally and knowingly causing the death of Leonardo Chavez, III and his wife, Annette Chavez, during the same criminal transaction. The essential facts are summarized below.

Aguilar and Rick Esparza, who were longtime friends, worked together in the sale of marijuana. Rick initially worked for Aguilar beginning in November 1994 in transporting marijuana from their homes in Texas to Mississippi in Rick's vehicle.

Shortly thereafter, another supplier asked Rick to transport marijuana to Mississippi, and he began dealing without Aguilar.

Apparently, Aguilar felt Rick was stealing his business, and this caused friction between the two men. Aguilar began stopping by Rick's trailer and accusing Rick of running drugs without him.

Rick testified that Aguilar threatened Rick's life on a number of occasions. Rick stated that he was afraid of Aguilar because he had seen “the way [Aguilar] hurts people.”

In spite of Aguilar's threats, Rick maintained his own drug courier business. Rick often asked his sister, Annette Chavez, and her family to stay at his home during out-of-town trips.

On June 8, 1995, Rick and his wife took a load of drugs to Mississippi. Annette, her husband Leo, and their two children, Leo, Jr. (nine years old) and Lincoln (about two years old), stayed at Rick's home.

Aguilar spent much of the afternoon and evening of June 9 drinking with friends. At approximately 9:00 p.m., he was at a friend's house with, among others, David and Chris Quiroz (Aguilar's nephew).

Their host eventually went to bed. As David Quiroz was leaving, he saw Aguilar and Chris Quiroz walk toward a red Buick owned by Chris' mother.

At approximately 5:00 a.m., Leo, Jr. was awakened from his bed in Rick's trailer by the sound of a gunshot. Leo, Jr. got out of bed and entered the kitchen. Because there was no wall between the rooms, Leo, Jr. could see into the living room, which was illuminated by a small lamp. Leo, Jr. saw his parents on the floor with two men standing over them.

Leo, Jr. testified that the “American” man told his father to “[g]et your fat ass up,” and then saw the man shoot his father. The “Mexican” man then took the gun and shot his mother. FN1 Leo, Jr. ran to the neighbors for help. A pathologist testified it was obvious from markings on Leo, Sr.'s and Annette's bodies that they were severely beaten before they were shot.

FN1. A pathologist testified as an expert witness for the state and stated that the couple had been shot “execution style.” 20 TR 738.

That afternoon, Daniel Pena was driving around with Aguilar and Chris Quiroz when Aguilar asked Daniel to go to Rafael Flores, Jr.'s residence.

Aguilar offered to sell a .22 caliber revolver to Rafael. Rafael bought the revolver and gave it to his brother, who in turn gave it to their father. The police later received a tip that they could recover the murder weapon from the Flores' residence, which they did.

After recovering the weapon, the police lab compared bullets from .22 caliber revolver with the .22 caliber bullets recovered from the Chavezes' bodies. The ballistics expert could not rule this revolver in or out as the murder weapon.

Approximately two weeks after the murders, Leo, Jr.'s grandmother was reading the newspaper when Leo, Jr. saw a picture and told her that two of the men in the picture were the men who “hurt” his parents.

His grandfather took Leo, Jr. to the police station where Leo, Jr. identified Chris Quiroz as the “American” who shot his father, and Aguilar as the “Mexican” who shot his mother.

Leo was unable to identify Aguilar in a police lineup, but an investigator for the Cameron County Sheriff's office testified that Leo, Jr. became visibly upset when Aguilar entered the lineup room.

Following the guilty verdict and affirmative findings on the Texas special issue, the trial court sentenced Aguilar to death in accordance with Texas law. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Aguilar's conviction and sentence and the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari. See Aguilar v. State, No. 72,470 (Tex.Crim.App.1997), cert. denied,523 U.S. 1139, 118 S.Ct. 1845, 140 L.Ed.2d 1094 (1998). Aguilar then filed a state application for post conviction relief which the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied. Ex Parte Aguilar, No. 36,142-01 (Tex.Crim.App. June 10, 1998).

Aguilar later filed his federal habeas corpus petition. At an evidentiary hearing before a magistrate judge, Aguilar asked the court to dismiss his petition without prejudice so that he could return to state court and raise unexhausted claims. The request was granted.

Aguilar's successive state habeas petition was dismissed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals as an abuse of the writ in November 2001. Five days later, he filed another federal habeas corpus petition.

The state moved for summary judgment on the writ and the motion was referred to a magistrate judge for Report and Recommendation. The magistrate judge recommended that all of Petitioner's claims be denied, except one.

The magistrate judge recommended that Aguilar be granted relief on his claim that he was deprived of due process by the trial court's failure to charge the jury on a lesser included offense of non-capital murder. The district court judge accepted all the magistrate judge's recommendations, except on the lesser included offense claim.

The district court concluded that Petitioner was not entitled to relief on this claim and dismissed his petition. The district court later granted COA on Aguilar's lesser included offense claim.

*****

The evidence was clearly sufficient to establish that Aguilar participated in the murder of Leo, Sr. The question is whether the evidence would permit a reasonable jury to make a contrary finding: that Quiroz acted alone in Leo's murder without encouragement or other participation by Aguilar.

After reviewing the record, we are satisfied it would not permit a rational jury to find that if Aguilar is guilty, he is only guilty of murdering Annette. As the district court pointed out, Aguilar-and not Quiroz-had the motive to kill Esparza or his family members.

The evidence established that Aguilar had been to the trailer home on several earlier occasions, threatening Esparza, and had previously discussed with Annette Chavez the whereabouts of Esparza. Aguilar entered the Esparzas' trailer with his eighteen-year-old nephew (Quiroz), who had no connection to the Chavezes or Esparza or with Aguilar's marijuana trafficking.

The two entered the trailer with a firearm and proceeded to severely beat the Chavezes. Then, the couple was shot “execution style” within minutes of each other. There is no evidence in the record supporting Aguilar's contention that he did not have intent to kill both Leo and Annette when he and Quiroz entered the residence.FN3

A reasonable jury, who would find that Aguilar was the second shooter in this double murder, could not find that he did not encourage or otherwise participate in the shooting of Leo, Sr. We therefore conclude that the district court did not err in rejecting Aguilar's Beck claim.

*****

Aguilar also seeks a COA on grounds that the evidence was insufficient to support the jury's finding that he was a party to the murder of Leo Chavez, Sr. and the finding that he was responsible for the murder of Annette Chavez.

In determining a sufficiency of the evidence claim, a court should consider whether “after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.” Jackson v. Virginia,443 U.S. 307, 319, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979).

On direct appeal, the Court of Criminal Appeals found that the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's finding that Aguilar was a party to the murders. The court considered the eye-witness testimony of Leo Chavez, Jr. and his identification of Aguilar as the person directly responsible for the death of his mother.

The court also observed that Aguilar, and not Quiroz, was the person with the motive to kill the people in the trailer home. The court also discussed the fact that Aguilar sold the .22 caliber revolver that was later discovered by the police and offered by the state as a possible murder weapon.

Based on the foregoing evidence, the Court of Criminal Appeals found that a rational jury could find beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant was criminally responsible for the deaths of both victims and that the victims were killed during the same criminal transaction.

The district court adopted the magistrate judge's opinion that “[u]nder the very deferential Jackson standard, this was sufficient to support the jury's finding that Aguilar was a party to the second murder.”

Based on the evidence presented at trial, we conclude that the district court's conclusion based on the deferential Jackson standard was not debatable or wrong and we therefore deny COA.

*****

Conclusion

For the reasons stated above, we AFFIRM the district court's judgment denying habeas relief on his claim that he was entitled to the lesser included offense jury charge. We also DENY COA on the remaining claims.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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