14 August 2008

Public Improvement Announcement 08.14.08

'Texas 7' inmate executed

HUNTSVILLE – Michael Rodriguez apologized and thanked his spiritual advisor before he was administered a lethal injection and pronounced dead at 6:20 p.m. Thursday.

Rodriguez, 45, had ordered all appeals dropped and volunteered for Thursday's lethal injection.

"My punishment is nothing compared to the pain and sorrow I've brought you," he said. "I'm not strong enough to ask for forgiveness because I don't know if I am worthy."

"I ask the Lord to please forgive me. I've done horrible things that brought sorrow and pain to these wonderful people," he said, looking directly at the widow of the slain police officer and Rodriguez's former sister-in-law.

Rodriguez also spoke to Irene Wilcox, his spiritual advisor.

"Irene, I want to thank you for helping me walk in Christ's footsteps," he said. "These first few steps our mine alone."

Rodriguez prayed as the drugs took effect.

"I am ready to go, Lord," he said. "Thank you."

He was the eighth convicted killer executed this year in the nation's busiest capital punishment state and the fourth this month. Another is set for next week. He was the first of the six surviving "Texas 7" band to be put to death.

Rodriguez ordered a large menu for his final meal before being executed.

Rodriguez, 45, asked for fried chicken breast (preferably spicy), a grilled pork steak with onions, a bacon cheeseburger, a garden salad and french fries with ketchup.

It arrived at about 4:00 p.m., two hours before he was set to die for the murder of an Irving Police officer.

Rodriguez is the first of the notorious "Texas 7" to be put to death.

"I need to pay back," Rodriguez said in an interview with the Associated Press last week. "I can't pay back monetarily. This is the way."

He was serving a life sentence for the murder of his wife in San Antonio when he conspired with six others to break out of the John Connally Unit in the fall of 2000.

Rodriguez and six others went on a crime spree, eventually killing Officer Aubrey Hawkins on Christmas Eve during the robbery of an Oshman’s Sporting Goods store in Irving.

Hawkins, who was the first officer to arrive on the scene to investigate a report of suspicious activity, was shot 11 times and run over with his own patrol car.

Weeks later, Rodriguez and his cohorts were finally captured in the mountains near Colorado Springs as they attempted to create a plan to rob a casino.

One committed suicide as police closed in. The remaining six were all sentenced to death. Rodriguez asked to be executed first.

"This early execution, to me, was almost a breath of fresh air," Lori Hawkins, Aubrey's widow, told News 8. "I feel like, in my heart, this is someone who's actually admitting to their crime."

Waiving his appeals, Rodriguez was strapped to the gurney inside the Walls Unit just before 6:00 p.m.

Outside, more than 20 Irving Police officers made the three hour trip to Huntsville Thursday afternoon to stand in support of Hawkins’ widow, Lori.

“It’s good the first one’s coming,” said Toby Shook, the Dallas prosecutor who tried each of the six. “It’s going to be a real long process.

Hawkins rode to the Walls Unit in Huntsville with several Irving Police officers. At least two of them witnessed the execution with her.

More than 20 other officers will stand in uniform outside in a show of support, at Lori’s request. They rode separately in three vehicles Thursday.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice said Rodriguez had no family or friends witness his death.

Rodriguez was the eighth inmate Texas executed this year.

Robocop's Comment:

They should have executed the SOB on Christmas Eve. The same night he murdered that police officer. We need to send hell a telegram stating "We are sending you someone."

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