AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas plans to execute Manuel Garza on Wednesday for seizing a gun from a San Antonio police officer and fatally shooting him in a struggle in 2001.
Garza, 34, is set to be put to death by lethal injection at 6 p.m. at the state’s death chamber in Huntsville. If the execution goes ahead, it will be the 524th in Texas since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, the most of any state.
Garza was convicted of killing John “Rocky” Riojas, 37, a member of an elite SWAT unit who was patrolling an apartment complex that had been hit by a crime wave.
When Riojas approached Garza, he fled from the officer, who then gave chase, court documents show. A struggle ensued and Garza used Riojas’ gun to shoot him in the head.
A jury deliberated for three hours before sentencing Garza to death in a trial that dominated media, featuring weeks of jury selection and an attack on a TV cameraman by a relative of the defendant.
Garza’s attorneys appealed unsuccessfully to halt the execution, saying he did not have adequate legal representation at the time of his original trial.
Prior to his arrest on the murder charge, Garza had been arrested for suspected burglary, auto theft and marijuana possession.
Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Clarence Fernandez