Humberto Leal Garcia, who has been in the United States illegally since he was two years old, faces execution for the brutal kidnapping, rape, and murder of a 16-year-old girl in 1994. Garcia was 21 when he committed the crime for which he is now scheduled to face the death penalty. But not if President Barack Obama and the United Nations have their way.
The prosecution’s evidence at Garcia’s trial included two incriminating statements he made to the police during non-custodial interviews on the day of the murder. It also included forensic evidence.
More specifically, the evidence established that the night on which teenage girl was sexually assaulted and slain: (1) Garcia carried her in an intoxicated semi-conscious state into his car; (2) Garcia was the last known individual to see girl alive; (3) Garcia confessed to police and his brother that he had killed the girl, although he claimed it was an accident; (4) when the girl was placed in Garcia’s car, she was fully clothed; when her body was discovered on a dirt road not far from a party that she and Garcia both attended, it was nude with a stick protruding from her body and (5) a piece of the girl’s bloodied clothing was located at Garcia’s home. Scratches and cuts on Garcia’s face also linked him to the killing.
Garcia was represented by counsel at the trial and on the case’s numerous appeals. He was found guilty, a verdict which has been upheld on appeal. Nevertheless, the Obama administration has followed its pattern of taking states to court regarding illegal aliens, appealing last Friday to the U.S. Supreme Court to stay Garcia’s execution, scheduled to take place in Texas on July 7th. The administration is hung up on the technicality that Garcia, whom the administration described in its 30-page brief to the Supreme Court as “a Mexican national who has resided in the United States since he was two years old,” was not given advice regarding the opportunity to contact the Mexican consulate after his arrest, which is reportedly required under the international treaty known as the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Note that he was not prevented from requesting contact with the Mexican consulate.
Garcia is trying to take advantage of a ruling of the International Court of Justice requiring the review and reconsideration of the convictions and sentences of Mexican nationals whose “rights” under the Vienna Convention have been supposedly violated. In 2004, the International Court of Justice determined, in what is known as the Avena case, that the United States had violated the Vienna Convention by failing to inform 51 Mexican nationals, including Garcia, of their Vienna Convention rights, and by failing to notify consular authorities of the detention of 49 Mexican nationals, including Garcia.
The international court ruled that the appropriate remedy for those violations “consists in the obligation of the United States of America to provide, by means of its own choosing, review and reconsideration of the convictions and sentences of [affected] Mexican nationals.” The international court stated that review and reconsideration should occur through a judicial process and that the relevant inquiry in that process would be whether the treaty violation caused actual prejudice to the defendant.
Garcia has already received this judicial review in the United States at the state and federal level. He has lost multiple appeals. The Texas trial court rejected the no consulate contact claim on the merits, finding that because Garcia was not in custody at the time he was interviewed by the police, Vienna Convention obligations were not triggered and, accordingly, his statements were not obtained in contravention of the Vienna Convention. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals likewise denied relief based on the trial court’s findings and its own review. Multiple appeals at the state and federal court level followed, each resulting in a rejection of the argument that Garcia’s rights were violated as a result of his not being informed of the opportunity to seek the advice of the Mexican consulate at the time of his arrest.
In fact, the Federal District Court found that there was “no arguable merit” to Garcia’s claim that he had sustained “actual prejudice.” Conducting what it described as the judicial review and reconsideration required by the International Court of Justice decision, the court stated that there was “little the Mexican government could have done to aid petitioner’s trial counsel.” The federal Court of Appeals vacated this specific finding on the technicality that the district court had erroneously assumed “hypothetical jurisdiction” — whatever that means — but dismissed Garcia’s claim anyway.
The fact is that every state and federal court that has considered Garcia’s contention that he was actually prejudiced by not having been advised of the opportunity to contact the Mexican consulate at the time of his arrest has dismissed the claim.
Nevertheless, the Obama administration has decided to ride to Garcia’s rescue. In its brief filed last week with the United States Supreme Court, the Obama administration claimed that going ahead with the execution “would place the United States in irreparable breach of its international-law obligation to afford (Leal Garcia) review and reconsideration of his claim that his conviction and sentence were prejudiced by Texas authorities’ failure to provide consular notification and assistance under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations…That breach would have serious repercussions for United States foreign relations, law-enforcement and other cooperation with Mexico, and the ability of American citizens traveling abroad to have the benefits of consular assistance in the event of detention.”
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