A Texas man convicted of a fatal shooting during a robbery more than a decade ago was put to death today. John Manuel Quintanilla yesterday received a lethal injection for gunning down 60-year-old Victor Billings. The 2002 killing came just a few months after Quintanilla had been released from prison after serving a sentence for several burglary convictions.
The 36-year-old Quintanilla became the ninth Texas inmate to receive lethal injection this year and the 501st since the state resumed carrying out capital punishment in 1982.
His execution was carried out after the US Supreme Court refused two last-day appeals. Asked to make a final statement,Quintanilla told his wife he loved her.
“Thank you for all the years of happiness,” he said. He never acknowledged his victim’s friends or relatives,including two daughters,who watched through a window. Quintanilla’s wife,a German national who married him by proxy while he was in prison,watched through an adjacent window and sobbed.
Quintanilla’s lawyers contended his confession was coerced by authorities threatening to also charge one of his sisters and that the statement improperly was allowed into evidence at his trial.
The Texas attorney general’s office said the appeal was without merit. “There wasn’t any coercion whatsoever,” Dexter Eaves,the lead prosecutor at the trial,said last week. Quintanilla’s accomplice,Jeffrey Bibb 33,is serving 60 years for murder and 50 years for aggravated robbery.
On Thursday,another Texas inmate is set for lethal injection. Vaughn Ross,41,is to be executed for a double slaying in 2001.