Member of ‘Texas Seven’ set for execution 18 years after cop murder

The seven prisoners who escaped on Dec 13, 2000 from a Texas maximum-security prison in Kenedy. (AFP pic)

WASHINGTON: Texas planned to execute a man Tuesday who, along with six others known as the “Texas Seven,” killed a police officer during a 2000 crime spree before being arrested thanks in part to the television program “America’s Most Wanted.”

Joseph Garcia, 47, was set to be executed by lethal injection at 6pm local time (00GMT) in the death chamber in Huntsville.

Sentenced to 50 years in prison for killing a friend during a fight, Garcia and six other inmates at the Connally high-security prison in southern Texas participated in an infamous escape.

The men attacked guards for their uniforms and forced another to open the door. One of the men’s fathers was waiting in a car outside.

To finance their post-escape trip, the “Texas Seven” looted retail businesses, and on Christmas Eve, they attacked a sporting goods store in a Dallas suburb.

As the men fled the scene, they killed Aubrey Hawkins, a young police officer who had been called in for reinforcement and who was showered in bullets and hit by a 4×4 plank of wood.

Authorities launched a manhunt, offering a US$100,000 (RM414,000) reward, which eventually grew to US$500,000 for information on the gang.

After the airing of an episode of “America’s Most Wanted” – a popular program dedicated to the search for dangerous criminals – several people reported crossing paths with the fugitives.

Six weeks after their escape, the men were apprehended in Colorado, and one of them killed themselves during the arrest.

The survivors were found guilty of the officer’s murder and sentenced to death.

Three have already been executed, and two more, other than Garcia, remain on death row.

Garcia’s lawyers argued that he did not fire the fatal shots and so should be spared. They filed a last-minute appeal with the Supreme Court to suspend the execution, with the court expected to rule the day of the planned lethal injection.

US states have executed 21 people so far in 2018, 12 of them in Texas.