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Texas inmate executed after being convicted of double murder in 2001, insisted he was innocent

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A Texas inmate was executed on Wednesday, decades after being convicted of two murders that he insisted he didn’t commit. 

Ivan Cantu, 50, was pronounced dead at 6:47 p.m. on Wednesday night after being administered a lethal injection. He was an inmate at the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville.

In 2001, Cantu was convicted for the murders of his 27-year-old cousin, James Mosqueda, and Mosqueda’s girlfriend, Amy Kitchen, 22. The couple was found shot dead in November 2000.

The Associated Press reported Cantu maintained his innocence in his final words Wednesday as relatives of Kitchen looked on: “I want you to know that I never killed James and Amy,” he said. “And if I did, if I knew who did, you would’ve been the first to know any information.”

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Cantu, according to the AP, also said he didn’t think his death “will bring you closure. If it does, if this is what it takes or have any reservations off in your mind, then so be it.”

Cantu was accused of trying to steal marijuana, cocaine and cash from Mosqueda, a drug dealer, before killing him and his girlfriend in north Dallas. 

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Cantu had maintained that his cousin was actually killed by a rival drug dealer.

The inmate’s ex-girlfriend, Amy Boettcher, testified that Cantu confessed his intentions to kill Mosqueda and Kitchen — a testimony that Cantu’s attorney said was full of false statements. 

Cantu’s lawyer, Gena Bunn, contested that Boettcher’s testimony about Cantu stealing Mosqueda’s Rolex watch was false, along with her claim that the late inmate gave her an engagement ring stolen from Kitchen.

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Walls Unit in Huntsville, Texas exteriors

Bunn gathered new evidence purportedly proving Cantu’s innocence, but confirmed that she would not submit an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court shortly before the inmate was executed. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals previously found that new evidence in the case was “not credible.” 

The court argued that “none of [the new evidence] undermines the critical incriminating evidence against Cantu.”

Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis recently said that he is “convinced that Ivan Cantu brutally murdered two innocent victims in 2000.”

Cantu’s execution was the Lone Star State’s first of 2024. The next execution is scheduled for the summer — an inmate named James Harris, Jr. had his March 13 execution date postponed due to a stay issued by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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