USA: Two executions at the same time – Casey McWhorter (Alabama) and David Renteria (Texas) executed
On Thursday evening, 49-year-old Casey McWhorter was executed by lethal injection in the US state of Alabama. He was sentenced to death for murdering a 34-year-old man during a robbery in 1993 when he was 18 years old together with two younger teenagers – including the victim’s then 15-year-old son.
The defense attorneys had unsuccessfully applied to the US Supreme Court for a stay of execution, citing McWhorter’s age at the time of the crime. They argued that the death sentence was unconstitutional because under Alabama law a person is not considered an adult until the age of 19.
McWhorter did not deny being involved in the crime and firing the first shot, but claimed the fatal shots did not come from him. “I was a very confused kid,” McWhorter told the media. “I had some issues in my head that I didn’t know how to solve, and the only way I knew to feel accepted by my circle of friends was to do some very stupid things together with them.”
His supporters published the following quote from him: “Don’t judge your fellow man by the worst mistake he has made. Rather, judge him by the lesson he has learned from that mistake and how he has applied it to his life.”
Reverend Dr. Jeff Hood was McWhorter’s spiritual advisor and witness to the execution. Hood is known as an activist for the abolition of the death penalty and has attended several executions. His testimony immediately after the death sentence was carried out was devastating.
Although Alabama – known for several failed executions – carried out the killing process this time without any major mishaps, it was the most unprofessional execution that Hood said he had experienced. For example, they had simply forgotten to bring the witnesses into the prison, so that the start of the execution was delayed by what felt like 20 minutes or more. In the next room there was a television with a soccer program on, the sound of which could be heard all the way into the execution room.
The staff didn’t quite know what to do, and the instructions Hood had been given beforehand were not what was expected of him in the end. Unlike other executions he’d seen, Hood said, it wasn’t really clear when it was over – lots of confusion and confusion. Hood expressed massive concern at the thought that with this lack of professionalism, Alabama was planning to carry out the never-before-tried nitrogen hypoxia execution method in a matter of weeks.
At the same time in Texas
Also on Thursday evening in Huntsville, Texas, 53-year-old David Renteria was executed with a lethal injection, an overdose of pentobarbital. He was sentenced to death for the kidnapping and murder of a five-year-old girl in 2001. The youngest child of eight siblings was out Christmas shopping in a Walmart when Renteria kidnapped her.
He prayed, sang and asked for forgiveness before the drugs started flowing. “I’m sorry for all the wrongs I’ve done. And to those who have called for my death, who want to kill me, I forgive them,” he said in a final statement.
Renteria’s lawyers argued unsuccessfully that authorities had violated his constitutional rights by refusing to let them see the prosecution’s file to back up his claim that he did not kill the girl.
Renteria had long claimed that members of a gang called Barrio Azteca, including a person nicknamed “Flaco,” had forced him to kidnap the girl by threatening his family – and that it was the gang members who killed her.
Renteria’s attorneys’ claims were based on witness statements released by El Paso police in 2018 and 2020, in which a woman told investigators that her ex-husband, a member of Barrio Azteca, was involved in the death of a girl who had disappeared from a Walmart. A federal judge ruled in 2018 that the woman’s testimony was full of inaccuracies and not enough to prove Renteria’s innocence.