Texas inmate Samuel Bustamante was executed Tuesday for the fatal stabbing of an illegal immigrant in 1998, making him the seventh prisoner executed so far this year.
Bustamante, 40, made no final statement, only shaking his head when asked by the warden if he wanted to do so. His death was witnessed by four friends he invited to attend. No friends or relatives of the victim were present.
He was pronounced dead at 6:22 p.m., just eight minutes after the lethal injection began.
Bustamante was convicted of the slaying of Rafael Alvarado, 27, a Mexican national in Fort Bend County, southwest of Houston, who became a target of what Bustamante and some of his friends called “shopping trips” where they would hunt illegal immigrants, then beat and rob them.
The punishment came about 90 minutes after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-ditch appeal from Bustamante's attorneys. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest criminal court, had refused a similar appeal Monday. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles also declined a clemency request.
In a taped confession to detectives, Bustamante said he and three friends — Dedrick Depriest and brothers Walter and Arthur Escamilla, all from El Campo, about 70 miles southwest of Houston — spent the day in January 1998 eating and drinking. He said they decided to go "shopping" in Rosenberg, 40 miles to the northeast, as bars were closing at 2 a.m.
Alvarado, after leaving a Rosenberg bar, approached the pickup driven by Arthur Escamilla and offered to pay for a ride home to nearby Richmond.
Alvarado joined Walter Escamilla and Bustamante in the bed of the truck and they drove off. After a few minutes, Bustamante told officers, he pulled a knife and began stabbing Alvarado as Escamilla held him down. Alvarado managed to break free and bail out of the speeding truck.
Police following a trail of blood the next morning found Alvarado's body in a ditch. He'd been stabbed at least 10 times.
Two months later, with Bustamante jailed on an unrelated charge in Wharton County, authorities notified Rosenberg police after receiving a tip he was involved in Alvarado's slaying.
“I don’t need a judge and I don't need a jury to tell me I'm guilty,” Bustamante, a former oil field worker, told detectives.
Bustamante was listed in prison records as 5-foot-7 and 264 pounds. Known as “Fat Boy,” he had at least three earlier convictions — one in North Carolina for forgery and two others in Texas, one in Wharton County for burglary and one in Dallas for possession of a prohibited weapon while on parole.
Headed to the death chamber after Bustamante is 41-year-old Kevin Varga, on May 12. Varga, a Michigan native who’d been imprisoned in South Dakota, was condemned for the 1998 fatal beating of a North Carolina man with a hammer and tree limb.
One of Varga’s accomplices, 41-year-old Billy Galloway, is scheduled for lethal injection the next day.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.