Texas Inmate Ivan Cantu Executed Despite Maintaining Innocence in Double Murder

Texas inmate Ivan Cantu who denied killing 2 people is executed

A Texas man was executed Wednesday despite assertions from him and his attorney that his 2001 conviction for the killing of his cousin and his cousin’s girlfriend was based on questionable evidence and false testimony.

Ivan Cantu passed away Wednesday evening at the Huntsville State Penitentiary via lethal injection.

His demise was confirmed in a statement by Collin County Prosecutor Greg Willis, who posted on Twitter: “After two decades of multiple reviews of his conviction, by both state and federal courts, Ivan Cantu finally found justice.”

Cantu, born in Dallas 50 years ago, was convicted in 2001 for the deaths of his cousin, James Mosqueda, 27, and Mosqueda’s fiancée, Amy Kitchen, 22, in Dallas in 2000. Cantu was 28 at the time of the incident.

According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Cantu’s final words were addressed to the Mosqueda and Kitchen families, stating, “I want you to know that I never killed James and Amy,” further expressing that if he knew who did, they would have been informed.

In a recent interview at the prison with Noticias Telemundo, Cantu maintained, “if you look at the evidence, you will clearly know that I didn’t commit the crime.”

Ivan Cantu
Ivan Cantu (Credits: CNN)

Cantu’s case garnered national attention, with more than 145,000 people signing an online petition calling for a stay of execution. Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Martin Sheen, and Jane Fonda, along with public officials like Rep. Joaquin Castro and former U.S. Housing Secretary Julian Castro, advocated for a review of his sentence.

“There are no circumstances that justify hastening his execution,” Rep. Joaquin Castro stated. “There are serious doubts about his guilt, and the State of Texas has a moral and ethical responsibility to ensure that his claims of innocence are thoroughly investigated.”

Prosecutors alleged Cantu killed Mosqueda, who was involved in illegal drug dealings, and his fiancée during a robbery attempt. However, Cantu contended that a rival drug dealer was responsible for his cousin’s death in a dispute over money.

Despite Cantu’s assertions, two lower courts denied his request to stay his execution, and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted against commuting his death sentence or granting a reprieve.

The bodies of Mosqueda and Kitchen were discovered in 2000 with multiple gunshot wounds, but no weapon was found at the scene. Cantu’s car was found near the crime scene, and police found items missing from the victims’ home, including Mosqueda’s watch and Kitchen’s ring.

Cantu’s legal team claimed to have found evidence undermining his guilt, including discrepancies in witness testimonies and evidence of tampering with key pieces of evidence.

In a recent statement, Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis maintained the evidence presented at trial proved Cantu’s guilt. “I remain fully convinced that Ivan Cantu brutally murdered two innocent victims in 2000,” he stated.

As his execution date approached, Cantu expressed thoughts of the victims’ families’ pain and anguish, stating, “They are also my family… We all need justice.”

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