5 August 2008 – José Ernesto Medellín
Convicted alongside a number of accomplices including Sean Derrick O’Brien and Peter Cantu for the attacks on two young friends, José Ernesto Medellín was finally made to pay for his crimes after a lengthy stay on death row…a stay which led to an international courtroom battle between USA and his homeland of Mexico.
Victims, 16-year-old Elizabeth Pena and 14-year-old Jennifer Ertman were taking taking a shortcut home back in June 1993 when they ran into Medellín and his gang, who viciously set upon them, raping them both before strangling them to death and leaving their bodies in the woods.
There was so much evidence left at the scene, it wasn’t long before the culprits were rounded up and promptly began blaming each other and playing down their own involvement in the crimes.
Most of the gang members got lesser sentences, but Medellín, O’Brien and Cantu were all sentenced to pay with their lives.
Medellín v Texas
Medellín’s case, in particular, gained international notoriety when the United States were sued by Mexico. They claimed that the US had failed to inform the 51 Mexican criminals languishing on death row (of whom Medellín was one at the time) that they could seek advice from the Mexican Embassy. This violation of their human rights was in contravention of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
The International Court of Justice, which heard the case, ruled that the United States was obliged to reopen and reconsider the individual casebooks for failing to ‘inform the foreign nationals…of their right to consult with their country’s diplomats’, according to Wikipedia.
Medellín 0 : Texas 1
The Bush administration briefed the Supreme Court on their duty to comply with international treaties, but, in March 2008, the arguments were rejected and the way was clear for Texas to execute the sentence…which they did when Medellín was strapped to a gurney and given a lethal injection. He was 33.
Sean Derrick O’Brien was executed in July 2006 and Peter Cantu currently awaits his fate on death row.