By Michael Graczyk: The Associated Press
HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A Muleshoe man who stalked his ex-girlfriend after their breakup was executed Thursday for raping, strangling and using a claw hammer to fatally beat the woman.
Gilberto Reyes had no witnesses on his side of the death chamber. He never looked at the parents or other relatives of his victim, who watched through a window.
He was pronounced dead at 5:17 p.m. (MDT), eight minutes after the flow of lethal drugs began.
Reyes, 33, was the 17th inmate executed this year in the nation’s most active capital punishment state and the second in as many days. Another execution is set for next week.
The U.S. Supreme Court in March refused to review Reyes’ case, and a federal lawsuit on his behalf challenging the constitutionality of the Texas lethal injection procedure was dismissed Monday by a federal judge in Houston. No additional appeals were filed by his lawyer.
“I think that’s what he wants,” attorney Paul Mansur said after meeting with Reyes on death row this week. “Just let it go.”
Reyes was condemned for the slaying of Yvette Barraz, 19, whose parents reported her missing when she failed to return home from work at a Muleshoe restaurant in 1998.
Reyes already was known to local police. A month earlier, he chased Barraz around town, took a shot at her with a rifle, wound up getting arrested and was free on bond.
“We certainly wanted to find him and visit with him,” recalled Don Carter, the former Muleshoe police chief. “I don’t think you have to be in law enforcement to figure that deal out. And the fact was we never could find him, which just made him even more so a suspect.”
Two days after she was last seen, Barraz’ battered body was found stuffed under clothing in the hatchback area of her car some 450 miles to the south in Presidio, along the Rio Grande across from Mexico.
Authorities arrested him about three months after the slaying in Portales.
A Bailey County jury deliberated about two hours before convicting him of capital murder. They took another two hours before deciding on the death penalty.