Texas executes inmate for killing fellow prisoner

Ricardo Ortiz
Ricardo Ortiz

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) - A violent prison gang member was put to death Thursday for fatally injecting a fellow prisoner with an overdose of heroin more than 11 years ago.

Ricardo Ortiz, 46, thanked his family for their support although he had no personal witnesses in the death chamber.

He was pronounced dead nine minutes later, at 6:18 p.m.

Ortiz became the fifth condemned killer to receive lethal injection this year in the nation's most active death penalty state and the second killed this week in Texas.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal to delay the execution about two hours before he was scheduled to die. Ortiz had sought to put off the execution on the grounds that he should get federal money to pay for legal representation to file a state clemency request.

The issue is still under review by the court. Similar appeals from other condemned inmates so far have failed.

State attorneys had opposed the request, contending that even if Ortiz presented a clemency petition to the governor, it likely would fail.

Ortiz was condemned for injecting a fatal amount of heroin into 22-year-old Gerardo Garcia at the El Paso County jail. Garcia was found dead in 1997 of an injection three times more potent than the amount that could kill him.

Jail inmates testified that Ortiz obtained the drug the previous day and injected Garcia, saying his bank robbery partner had to die for implicating him. The two were being interviewed by FBI agents investigating a series of unsolved bank robberies.

Ortiz declined to speak with reporters before his execution. He had a long criminal history that included robbery, aggravated robbery, burglary and possessing deadly weapons in prison, including a homemade spear used to stab a fellow inmate.

Prosecutors said he was a high-ranking member of the Texas Syndicate prison gang.

Defense attorneys had tried to show jurors Garcia had a death wish and was considering suicide.

Evidence showed Ortiz was arrested in 1990 but never tried for the execution-style slayings of two Houston-area parolees, Anthony Rosalio Acosta, 42, and Jimmy Lopez Rangel, 29, in a desert southeast of El Paso.

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