declined to make a last statement.
Jose DE LA CRUZ
The 175th executed inmate since the death
penalty was reinstated in 1976, Jose De La Cruz, declined a plea
agreement for 50 years imprisonment and volunteered for the death
penalty for the 1988 murder of a partially paralyzed epileptic,
De la Cruz made a comment that he wanted to watch how
the judicial system operates when he rejected the plea agreement.
When he was proven guilty, he declined any appeals although the
decision is automatically appealed to the Texas Court of Criminal
On May 29, 1987, de la Cruz, who had been eating and
drinking with Rosas, Rosasí sister and brother-in-law earlier in the
evening, stabbed and broke Rosasí neck, stole his credit cards,
drivers license, television, video recorder, and stereo.
The next night, de la Cruz sold the stolen goods for
$80. Later that night, he was arrested for public intoxication when
he identified himself as Rosas. He was released from jail the next
day before Rosasí body was discovered.
The arresting officer had retrieved a bloody knife
from de la Cruzís car that was later tested for Rosasí blood and
admitted as evidence.
On June 3, 1987, de la Cruz withdrew $350 from Rosasí
savings account at Nueces National Bank where the teller noticed a
discrepancy in the signature. The teller also remembered reading
about Rosasí murder and reported de la Cruz to the police.
The trial was put on hold when one of the jurors
could not stay for the duration of the trial and District Judge
Joaquin Villarreal granted a mistrial.
Later, a court reporter spoke with another juror
during which the juror revealed that he had already made up his mind
about de la Cruzís guilt before hearing the defenseís testimony.
The defense attorney asked for another mistrial but was declined as
one had already been granted.
Michael Rendon, de la Cruzís brother-in-law,
testified that de la Cruz returned the morning after the murder with
Miguel Rios, being held for aggravated robbery in connection with
the murder of Rosas. Testimony from Riosí family members proved he
joined de la Cruz that night but, after the murder. After the trial
de la Cruz told reporters that Rios didnít do it.
On June 7, 1988, de la Cruz was convicted of robbery
and murder and sentenced to death.
De la Cruz appealed the decision three times even
though he had volunteered for the death penalty, which meant he
wouldnít appeal the decision. In the appeal process, he claimed
that drugs and little family support was his reason for his criminal
actions. All appeals were denied.
De la Cruz was 19
years old at the time of the murder. On May 4, 1999, at the age of
31, he was put to death by lethal injection in Huntsville, TX.
A parolee who blamed his criminal behavior on inhaling spray paint
fumes was executed Tuesday for stabbing and robbing a disabled
Corpus Christi man almost a dozen years ago.
Jose De La Cruz, who turned 31 last week, was pronounced dead at
6:23 p.m., 9 minutes after the lethal injection was started.
De La Cruz declined to make a final statement. As the drugs took
effect, he took one deep breath and grunted three times before he
De La Cruz was on parole for burglary when he killed 24-year-old
Domingo Rosas, the boyfriend of a cousin. De La Cruz had been
released from prison after serving less than 4 months of a 5-year
De La Cruz, who had an appeal rejected by a federal appeals court
more than a year ago, asked that no additional legal maneuvers be
taken on his behalf.
"I've already made amends with myself," he said in a recent death
row interview. "I'm at total peace with my case. I'm not innocent.
That man had every right to live just like I did."
De La Cruz, who was 19 at the time, had been visiting at Rosas' home
and drinking with the victim a few evenings before the slaying. He
returned early June 1, 1987 and used a knife to kill Rosas and steal
a television, video recorder and stereo, which he sold later in the
day for about $80.
Authorities said the victim's neck also was broken and it appeared
the attack began while he was in his wheelchair.
Rosas had been disabled since the age of 3 when a television antenna
pierced his face and entered his brain, leaving him partially
paralyzed and mentally impaired.
When he was arrested that night for public intoxication, De La Cruz
was carrying the victim's driver's license and credit cards, told
officers he was Rosas and eventually was released. He was arrested
two days after the killing when he went to Rosas' bank and tried to
withdraw money. By that time, authorities knew Rosas had been
De La Cruz initially denied any involvement in the murder but led
detectives to people who bought the stolen items from him. Blood
stains on his clothing also matched the blood of the victim.
"There are some cases where there perhaps is a struggle," Nueces
County District Attorney Carlos Valdez said. "In this case, there
was absolutely no justification for the killing. The victim was in a
wheelchair and couldn't even defend himself."
"You could say I was stupid," De La Cruz said in an interview 2
weeks ago. "It's sad it took this.
"I had many opportunities to reform but never took them. I've made a
hard struggle to educate myself. I was belligerent, hostile. But
since I've come here, I've calmed down a lot. I have grown."
De La Cruz said his addiction to inhaling spray paint, beginning at
age 10, got him high and allowed him to fantasize.
"It was mind-altering," he said.
De la Cruz becomes the 11th condemned inmate to be put to death in
Texas this year, and the 175th overall since the state resumed
capital punishment on Dec. 7, 1982.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
La Cruz stabbed Domingo Rosas to death
night before the murder De La Cruz was a guest in Rosas' home and
played a drinking game called "quarters" with Rosas until early
leaving Rosas' home, De La Cruz returned and killed Rosas in order
to steal Rosas' television, VCR and stereo, a theft which yielded
him approximately $80.
De La Cruz
was observed Saturday morning driving around with a television in
day, De La Cruz and his friend Michael Rios tried to sell a
television to Michael's uncle, Joe Rios. Joe Rios declined but
directed the pair to Ray and Irma Flores, who paid De La Cruz $80
for Rosas' belongings.
night, De La Cruz was arrested for public intoxication. The
arresting officer found De La Cruz staggering in the road, near a
borrowed car that De La Cruz had run into a ditch. De La Cruz
smelled like paint and seemed intoxicated.
officer placed De La Cruz in the patrol car. Inside the ditched car,
the officer discovered a large blood-stained knife and a bottle of
medicine prescribed to Rosas.
officer returned to the patrol car, De La Cruz volunteered that the
knife was his and repeatedly asked whether it would be returned. De
La Cruz then announced at his booking that he was Domingo Rosas, the
De La Cruz
was released from jail, only to be arrested again a few days later.
This time, De La Cruz entered Rosas' bank and attempted to withdraw
money using Rosas' bank identification card. The bank, knowing that
Rosas was dead, notified the police, and De La Cruz was arrested on
suspicion of murder.
arrest for Rosas' murder, De La Cruz told his trial counsel that he
did not commit the murder, but had delivered the stolen property to
a "fence." Counsel explained that the state might be willing to
arrange a plea agreement if De La Cruz could recover the stolen
also explained that any deal with the state would be unenforceable
unless De La Cruz was being truthful about his role. Thereafter, and
without finalizing any plea agreement, De La Cruz led police to some
of the stolen property, which was recovered with De La Cruz'
addition to the stolen television, the state produced overwhelming
evidence of De La Cruz' guilt at trial. For example, De La Cruz'
clothing and the knife recovered from the ditched car were both
stained with type-A blood, the same blood type as Rosas.
blood spatters on De La Cruz' pants indicated that the wearer had
forcefully stabbed a seated victim. De La Cruz does not raise any
issue of actual innocence.