A Texas child killer has been executed by lethal injection after the horrific murder of a young girl.
It brings an end to a horrible saga that began in 2001, when David Renteria of El Paso kidnapped, strangled, and burned 5-year-old Angelica Flores.
Renteria, 53, was condemned for the November 2001 killing of Alexandra Flores.
Prosecutors said the girl was Christmas shopping with her family at a Walmart store in El Paso on Nov. 18, 2001, when she was abducted by Renteria.
Her body was found a day later in an alley about 16 miles (25 kilometers) from the store.
Less than three hours before Renteria was set to receive a lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas, defense lawyers had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop his execution over claims the state’s supply of pentobarbital, the drug he would be injected with, has degraded.
READ MORE: Mega Millions lottery winner sues child’s mother for telling his family about the payout
Late Thursday, the high court rejected the last appeal without comment.
Defense lawyers had unsuccessfully argued the drugs now contain contaminants that would cause Renteria “terror” and “severe pain,” in violation of the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Recent similar claims made by other Texas inmates facing execution have been unsuccessful and, earlier Thursday, the the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals had rejected a stay request on the issue.
Early in the day, the nation’s highest court also declined to stop the execution over a separate claim related to Renteria’s assertions that he was not responsible for the girl’s death.
Renteria long claimed that members of a gang called Barrio Azteca, including someone named “Flaco,” forced him to kidnap the girl by making threats to his family — and that it was the gang members who killed her.
Authorities said Renteria’s lawyers did not raise this defense at his trial and that evidence in the case shows he alone carried out the abduction and killing. Blood found in his van matched the slain girl’s DNA, according to prosecutors, and his palm print was found on a plastic bag placed over the girl’s head before her body was set on fire.
Prosecutors said Renteria was a convicted sex offender on probation at the time.
The lethal injection was one of two scheduled Thursday in the U.S. In Alabama, Casey McWhorter was scheduled to be executed for his conviction in the fatal shooting of a man during a 1993 robbery.