(Reuters) - Texas put to death a Mexican national on Wednesday for the kidnap, rape and murder of his cousin, and Florida on the same day put to death a 53-year-old man for a 1991 double-murder, officials said.
Ruben Cardenas, 47, the Mexican national, died by lethal injection at the Texas death chamber in Huntsville at 10:26 p.m. local time, Jason Clark, deputy chief of staff for the state Department of Criminal Justice, said by phone.
“This is my statement: My final words. First, I want to thank my family for believing in me and being there with me till the end. I love you all very much! And I know that you love me too! Life does go on,” Cardenas wrote in a statement, according to the state’s Department of Criminal Justice.
The Cardenas case drew protests from Mexican diplomats, who said Texas prosecutors did not follow due process and did not let Cardenas speak with Mexican consular officials.
He was convicted of the February 1997 kidnap, rape and murder of his 16-year-old cousin, Mayra Laguna, in south Texas. He told investigators he was high on cocaine at the time.
“After 21 years of waiting, justice was finally served. Words can’t begin to describe the relief it feels to know that there is true peace after so much pain and sorrow,” said Laguna’s sister Roxana Jones, in a statement released through the state’s Department of Criminal Justice.
Two human rights experts who advise the United Nations said in a statement issued from Geneva this week that if Texas executed Cardenas, ”the U.S. Government will have implemented a death penalty without complying with international human rights standards.”
In a separate case, Patrick Hannon was executed by lethal injection at Florida State Prison in Starke at 8:50 p.m. local time, said Florida Department of Corrections spokeswoman Ashley Cook.
Hannon was convicted in the January 1991 murders of Brandon Snider and Robert Carter, who were killed in the Tampa apartment they shared.
Hannon and Cardenas were the 22nd and 23rd people executed in the United States so far this year, compared with 20 in 2016 and 28 in 2015, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
Reporting by David Beasley in Atlanta; Additional reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles and Dave Graham in Mexico City; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Leslie Adler, Jacqueline Wong and Michael Perry