The U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition to halt the execution planned for Wednesday of a south Texas man who bludgeoned and slashed to death a 12-year-old boy, mutilated the corpse and said he drank the blood of his victim.
The move came about four hours before Pablo Vasquez, 38, was scheduled 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 would be the sixth in Texas this year and the 537th since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, the most of any state.
Lawyers for Vasquez launched the last-minute appeal, saying in a petition filed with U.S. Supreme Court their client was denied a fair punishment because prospective, qualified jurors in his trial were dismissed if they had sympathies against the death penalty.
The lawyers have previously said Vasquez had mental health problems and suffered from learning disabilities.
See some of the most notable death penalty cases:
Notable death penalty executions and people on death row
Supreme Court refuses to halt execution of man who killed boy and drank his blood
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
Discover More Like This
BACK TO SLIDE
The two-sentence statement from the court did not give a reason for why the petition was denied.
The victim, David Cardenas, was found under metal sheets in the Texas border town of Donna in 1998. The arms were missing from the corpse, which had no skin on the back and a hole in the back of the head, court papers filed by Texas said.
The incident raised worries at the time about occult rituals, which were stoked when prosecutors produced a taped confession in which Vasquez, then 21, admitted to the killing and said he drank his victim's blood after saying voices from the devil told him to do so.