Texas inmate facing execution Tuesday claims he was 'railroaded'

Juan Martin Garcia's execution is scheduled for Tuesday, after a Texas board refused his most recent appeal last week. 

Mike Graczyk/AP
Death row inmate Juan Garcia is photographed in a visiting cage, Sept. 2, at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Polunsky Unit near Livingston, Texas. Garcia, 35, from Houston, is facing execution Tuesday, for the 1998 robbery and fatal shooting of Hugo Solano. Evidence showed Garcia and three companions stole $8 from the victim.

The state of Texas, which has executed ten people this year, has scheduled an eleventh for Tuesday.

Juan Martin Garcia, who was convicted of capital murder in 2000, was sentenced to death for the 1998 killing of Mexican missionary Hugh Solano in a Houston robbery-gone-wrong that yielded just $8 and sent four men to prison.

The US Supreme Court and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles have both refused Mr. Garcia’s appeals, leaving him to say “If it’s God’s will, it’s his will,” according to the Associated Press.

Garcia admits to shooting Mr. Solano, who had moved his family to the United States just before his death, but believes that he “got railroaded since I didn’t take the stand” to testify.

A jury decided Garcia was the ringleader of three other men, although he maintains that the robbery was another’s idea.

Eleazar Mendoza, whom Garcia accused of hatching the plan, was sentenced to 55 years in prison, and said that it was Garcia who approached Solano, ordered him to hand over his money, and shot him when he refused. Solano was shot four times in the head and neck.

Although he admits to shooting Solano, Garcia denies the robbery, and claims that the gun “discharged” after Solano punched Garcia and grabbed the weapon. “First thing that came through my mind is that the dude is going to try to kill me,” Garcia explained.

"My dad used to beat me," Garcia added. "When that guy hit me, I was high on drugs and the first person I saw was my dad. So I kept shooting."

A long list of previous crimes, including two attempted murders, aggravated robberies, began when Garcia was 12. At the time of Solano’s murder, Garcia was 18.

Texas executes far more people than any other state in the nation, the subject of a PBS Frontline investigation that suggested its legal system’s set-up and cultural factors could explain why it processes capital murder cases “with a speed unimaginable in other parts of the country.”

Since 1976, Texas has executed more than a third of the 1,416 inmates put to death in the United States as a whole, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who supports the death penalty, recently told students at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if capital punishment is soon declared unconstitutional. 

His remarks came just days before Pope Francis’ historic address to Congress, in which he reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s strong opposition to the death penalty, “since every life is sacred.” 

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Texas inmate facing execution Tuesday claims he was 'railroaded'
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today