His attorney once referred to him as the ‘poster child for how stupid the death penalty is.’
On Tuesday, Mark Anthony Soliz became the sixth Texas death row inmate to be executed, after he was put to death for the 2010 shooting of a 61-year-old grandmother at her North Texas home during an eight-day crime spree. A spree that included thefts and another killing.
Soliz, 37, was pronounced dead at 6:32 p.m. after receiving a lethal dosage of Pentobarbital at the Huntsville “Walls” Unit — 13 minutes after the process began.
Soliz, who chose not to file a last-second appeal to the United States Supreme Court, was apologetic with his final statement towards the family of the victim Nancy Hatch Weatherly.
“I want to apologize for the grief and the pain that I caused y’all,” Soliz said to the two members of the Weatherly family in attendance. “I’ve been considering changing my life, it took me 27 years to do so. I don’t know if me passing will bring y’all comfort for the pain and suffering I caused y’all. I’m at peace.”
Soliz’s last statement lasted nearly five minutes.
State and federal appeals courts and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles turned down requests by Soliz's attorneys to stop his execution throughout his appeals process, with the most recent denial coming last week.
Soliz's lawyers had argued for years that he suffers from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which left him with brain damage. His attorneys said the disorder is the "functional equivalent" of conditions already recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court as disqualifying exemptions to the death penalty, such as intellectual disability.
Prosecutors portrayed Soliz as a dangerous individual who killed Weatherly for a "pittance of property."
Soliz became the 15th inmate to be put to death in the United States this year, and the sixth in the state of Texas — the country's most active death chamber. Nine more executions are currently scheduled throughout the remainder of 2019, with one scheduled for 2020.
Soliz was sentenced to death by the 413th District Court for the June 29, 2010 shooting death of Nancy Hatch Weatherly in her home near Godley.
The week before Weatherly was murdered, Soliz and his friend Jose Clemente Ramos were known to have robbed strangers at gunpoint, shot a man in the ear, killed the driver of a beer delivery truck, pulled off a carjacking, burglarized homes and shot a man repeatedly in a drive-by.
Most of the crimes were in the Fort Worth area, but on June 29, Ramos and Soliz drove to Weatherly’s home in Johnson County. When the victim answered the door, the duo pulled out a gun and pushed her inside to rob her.
Attorneys involved in the case said Weatherly had poor eyesight, and may have confused Soliz and Ramos for two men who did work on her property when she opened her door.
Court records say that Soliz left Ramos to guard Weatherly while he ransacked her house. Ramos tried to calm Weatherly telling her they were only there to rob here home, when Soliz walked back into the room.
Attorney’s said Weatherly asked Soliz not to take an item that belonged to her mother, at which point Soliz said, “Then go be with her” before shooting her in the back of the head. A woman who testified during the trial said Soliz recounted the incident to her later that same or the next day and made fun of Weatherly’s accent while doing so.
Ramos was sentenced to life in prison for the deaths of Weatherly and the delivery man, Ruben Martinez.
The U.S. Supreme Court in 2002 barred the execution of mentally disabled people but has given states some discretion to decide how to determine intellectual disability. However, justices have wrestled with how much discretion to allow.
The Texas Attorney General's Office said in court documents filed earlier this month that the Supreme Court has not held that individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder are exempt from capital punishment and that Soliz has not presented an expert opinion stating he is intellectually disabled.
The attorney general's office said in its motion with the 5th U.S. Circuit of Appeals that a Fort Worth police detective testified Soliz was "more sophisticated, calculated, and dangerous" than his partner Ramos and that "Soliz was the most dangerous person with whom he had come into contact" in his 16 years as a police officer.
Juan A. Lozano and Michael Graczyk with the Associated Press and Matt Smith with the Cleburne Times Review contributed to this report.