A Texas man, David Renteria, who was convicted of the abduction, strangulation, and burning of a 5-year-old girl taken from a Walmart store nearly 22 years ago, was executed on Thursday evening. Renteria, 53, was pronounced dead at 7:11 p.m. CST at the state penitentiary in Huntsville following a lethal injection for the killing of Alexandra Flores. Before his execution, he prayed, sang, and sought forgiveness.
Expressing remorse, Renteria addressed those present, stating, “I’m sorry for all the wrongs I have done. And for those who have called for my death, who are about to murder me, I forgive you.” He continued to sing hymns in both Spanish and English, prayed with a spiritual adviser, and recited The Lord’s Prayer as the lethal dose of pentobarbital was administered. Renteria’s execution proceeded after the U.S. Supreme Court denied two separate defense requests for a stay earlier in the day.
Flores was abducted from the El Paso Walmart on Nov. 18, 2001, during a Christmas shopping outing, and her body was later found strangled and burned in an alley 16 miles away. Prosecutors argued that Renteria, a convicted sex offender, acted alone, pointing to evidence such as blood in his van matching the victim’s DNA and his palm print on a plastic bag over the girl’s head.
Two defense requests for a stay were based on efforts to access evidence that could have challenged Renteria’s responsibility for the crime and concerns about the degradation of the state’s supply of pentobarbital. Both were rejected by the Supreme Court. Renteria had previously claimed that a gang, Barrio Azteca, forced him to take the girl under threat to his family and that it was the gang members who committed the murder.
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Ignacio and Sandra Frausto, siblings of the victim, spoke to reporters after witnessing Renteria’s execution. Ignacio Frausto said, “I want to recognize her, not forget about her. It took 22 years but the time came. It is done. We can finally and really begin to heal — 22 years of wondering what was going to happen.”
Renteria’s execution was the eighth in Texas this year and one of two carried out in the United States on Thursday.