Texas executes inmate for Dallas police officer's 2001 death

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Texas Cop Killer To Become 24th Executed In U.S. This Year

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) -- A Texas man already being sought for a neighbor's slaying when he killed a Dallas police officer outside a club was executed Wednesday.

Licho Escamilla was put to death for the November 2001 death of Christopher Kevin James who was trying to break up a brawl involving Escamilla. The 33-year-old prisoner was pronounced dead at 6:31 p.m. CDT - 18 minutes after the lethal injection began.

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Escamilla became the 24th convicted killer executed this year in the United States. Texas has accounted for 12 of the executions.

Before dying, Escamilla looked at the slain officer's daughter, who was seated a few feet away watching through a window, and told her: "God bless your heart."

He turned to his relatives watching through another window and said he loved them and everyone who supported him.

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"Pope Francis, God's children has asked the state of Texas to switch my death sentence to life in prison," he said. "But the state of Texas has refused to listen to God's children.

"They will have to take that up with God," he added.

He took two breaths as the sedative pentobarbital took effect, then became still. His sister cried and screamed for God not to take him.

The rumbling of motorcycles could be heard outside the prison where bikers supporting the punishment had gathered.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review his case last week and no additional appeals were filed as his execution neared. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles on Monday decided against a reprieve and clemency.

James and three other uniformed officers were working off-duty when the brawl started. Escamilla pulled out a gun and opened fire on the officers as they tried to end the fight.

The bullets from his 9 mm semi-automatic handgun struck James twice, knocking him to the ground. Escamilla then calmly walked up to the officer and fired three more shots into the back of his head before running and exchanging shots with other officers, witnesses said. A second officer wounded in the shootout survived.

A wounded Escamilla was arrested as he tried to carjack a truck.

About a half-dozen Dallas police officers stood at attention and saluted as relatives of the slain officer entered the prison in Huntsville ahead of the execution.

"It's taken longer than we would have liked," Frederick Frazier, first vice president of the Dallas Police Association, said.

He said he and others showed up to support James and make sure he's remembered for the work he did. While officers know they're risking their lives every day, James' death has been difficult for them because of how it happened, Frazier added.

James, 34, had earned dozens of commendations during his nearly seven years on the Dallas police force after graduating at the top of his cadet class. He was working the off-duty security job to earn extra money so he and his new wife could buy a house.

Escamilla was 19 at the time of the officer's killing and a warrant had been issued for him in the shooting death of a West Dallas neighbor nearly three weeks earlier.

Texas Execution

Escamilla's trial attorneys told jurors he was responsible for James' slaying but argued it didn't merit a death sentence because James wasn't officially on duty, meaning the crime didn't qualify as a capital murder.

He was sentenced to death in October 2002. At his trial in Dallas, Escamilla grabbed a water pitcher off the defense table and threw it at the jury as the judge was reading his sentence.

Escamilla also started kicking and hitting people and hid under the table until he was subdued by deputies who triggered an electronic stun belt he was wearing.

Testimony showed Escamilla bragged to emergency medical technicians who were treating his wounds that he had killed an officer and injured another and that he'd be out of jail in 48 hours. He also admitted to the slaying during a television interview from jail.

Capital Punishment by State in the Past Decade | FindTheHome

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Notable death penalty executions and people on death row
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Texas executes inmate for Dallas police officer's 2001 death

Willie Francis, the first known incident of failed execution by lethal injection, was executed on May 9, 1947. He was sentenced to death for the murder of his former boss, Andrew Thomas. 

(AP Photo/File)

John Wayne Gacy, a rapist and serial killer responsible for the sexual assaults and murders of at least 33 men, was executed in Illinois on May 10, 1994. 

(AP Photo/File)

Ted Bundy, a kidnapper, rapist, and serial killer responsible for the assaults and murders of dozens of young women, was executed in in Florida on January 24, 1989. His actual victim count remains unknown.

(AP Photo/File)

Aileen Wuornos, a serial killer responsible for the deaths of seven men, was executed in Florida on October 9, 2002. 

(AP Photo/Peter Cosgrove)

Charles Starkweather, a spree killer responsible for eleven murders, was executed in Nebraska on June 25, 1959. 

(AP Photo/Don Ultang)

Timothy McVeigh, responsble for the Oklahoma City bombing, was executed in Indiana on June 11, 2001.

(AP Photo/File)

Thomas Provenzano, a convicted murderer responsible for shooting three people, was executed in Florida on June 21, 2000.

(AP Photo/Peter Cosgrove)

Gary Gilmore, responsible for the shooting deaths of two men, was executed in Utah on January 17, 1977.

(AP Photo)

Stanley "Tookie" Williams, founder and leader of the Crips gang responsible for several murders and other crimes, was executed in California on December 13, 2005.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Teresa Lewis, convicted of murdering her husband and stepson, was executed in Virginia on September 23, 2010.

(AP Photo/Va Dept of Corrections)

William Bonin, a serial killer responsible for a minimum of 21 rapes and murders, was executed in California on February 23, 1996.

(AP Photo/File)

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, responsible for Boston Marathon bombing, was sentenced to death on May 15, 2015.

(AP Photo/Federal Bureau of Investigation, File)

Nidal Malik Hasan, responsible for Ford Hood shooting, was sentenced to death on August 28, 2013.

(AP Photo/Bell County Sheriff's Department, File)

Joseph E. Duncan III, a convicted murderer and sex offender, was sentenced to death on August 27, 2008.

(AP Photo/Kootenai County First Appearance Video Court)

Death row prisoner Coy Wayne Wesbrook is photographed Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Polunsky Unit outside Livingston, Texas. Wesbrook, 58, is set for lethal injection March 9, 2016, for the November 1997 fatal shootings of his ex-wife and another man at her apartment in Channelview, just east of Houston. They were among five people killed during the shooting rampage. (AP Photo/Michael Graczyk)

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