Texas executes inmate who maintained innocence, got support from Kim Kardashian


A Texas man who argued that he was innocent and that his trial was tainted by false testimony was executed Wednesday.

Ivan Cantu received a lethal injection and was pronounced dead at 6:47 p.m. local time at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas, according to the Associated Press.

Cantu was convicted of the double homicide of his cousin James Mosqueda and Mosqueda’s fiancée, Amy Kitchen, in 2001.

Cantu maintained his innocence until his death though attempts to stay the execution ended after two lower courts denied appeals Tuesday and Cantu’s lawyer, Gena Bunn, “couldn’t find a viable path” to have the case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, according to the Associated Press.

This undated booking photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows Texas death row inmate Ivan Cantu. Cantu, who has long said he's innocent and claims that his conviction more than 20 years ago was based on false testimony and questionable evidence.

This undated booking photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows Texas death row inmate Ivan Cantu. Cantu, who has long said he’s innocent and claims that his conviction more than 20 years ago was based on false testimony and questionable evidence.

Lead juror, Kardashian supported Cantu

Cantu’s legal team argued in court filings that his trial “was marred by false testimony from the prosecution’s star witness,” who was Cantu’s then-girlfriend, Amy Boettcher. Court filings also show that Boettcher’s brother, Jeff Boettcher, recanted his testimony.

Cantu’s attorneys also alleged that Amy Boettcher lied about a watch Cantu was alleged to have stolen. Cantu also argued that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial, according to court documents.

Efforts to prevent the execution gained prominence as the podcast “Cousins by Blood” reinvestigated the case.

The Ausitn American Statesman − part of the USA TODAY NETWORK − published an op-ed from the head juror in the 2001 case, Jeff Calhoun. The opinion piece that said that the new evidence raised doubts in the conviction.

“Simply put, we jurors did not hear the truth you assume you would hear from a person under oath,” Calhoun wrote. “Bottom line, I feel like I was fooled.”

A petition to stay the execution on Moveon.org gained over 150,000 signatures and was shared by Kim Kardashian. Kardashian also wrote a post on X urging Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbot to give Cantu a 30-day reprieve.

“Hey! Its Kim Kardashian, I just wanted to thank you guys for signing, and I hope you all get your friends to sign too!” she wrote after digitally signing the petition. Kardashian also shared the Statesman op-ed on her Instagram.

The Wynne Unit is pictured on May 21, 2013 in Huntsville, Texas, the site of hundreds of executions in the state.

The Wynne Unit is pictured on May 21, 2013 in Huntsville, Texas, the site of hundreds of executions in the state.

Prosecutors remain ‘convinced’ conviction was correct

Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis said that he was still “fully convinced” that Cantu was guilty, according to a statement provided to CNN.

“It’s my firm belief that justice has been done in this case and that a Collin County jury’s verdict should be carried out,” Willis told the network.

State prosecutors have maintained that Cantu has repeatedly failed to provide new evidence and that his motions have no legal basis.

Court records show that Cantu’s fingerprints were found on the gun’s magazine.

Texas execution occurs hours after ‘botched’ Idaho execution

Cantu’s execution came hours after the execution of an Idaho man was called off after a medical team was unable to complete the lethal injection.

Thomas Eugene Creech was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection Wednesday, according to the Idaho Department of Correction, in what would have been the state’s first execution in 12 years. Creech, 73, was convicted of five murders in three states and landed on death row after killing a fellow prisoner in 1981.

The medical team attempted to establish IV access eight times in multiple places and encountered issues with both accessing the veins and the quality of the veins, department director Josh Tewalt said at a news conference Wednesday.

“We are angered but not surprised that the State of Idaho botched the execution of Thomas Creech today,” Federal Defender Services of Idaho said in a statement.

The death warrant for Creech will expire and Idaho officials will consider next steps, according to a statement from the Department of Correction.

Contributing: N’dea Yancey-Bragg and Emily DeLetter

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Texas executes Ivan Cantu, who maintained innocence in double murder





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