Texas set to execute man in murder of liquor store clerk

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 16, 2016 9:26 AM

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas on Tuesday plans to execute a man who was convicted of fatally shooting a liquor store clerk in a robbery outside of Dallas in 1990.

Gustavo Garcia, 43, who has spent more than half of his life on death row, is set to be executed by lethal injection at the state's execution chamber in Huntsville at 6 p.m. CST.

If the execution goes ahead, it would be the 534th in Texas since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, the most of any state.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition on behalf of Garcia seeking to halt the execution. Garcia's lawyers argued there were problems with his prosecution such as minority members being excluded from the jury at his trial.

When Garcia was 18, he and accomplice Christopher Vargas, then 15, entered a liquor store in the Dallas suburb of Plano in December 1990. Armed with a sawed-off shotgun, Garcia ordered the clerk, Craig Turski, to give him money from the cash register while his accomplice stole beer, according to the Texas Attorney General's office.

Garcia then shot Turski in the abdomen. Turski was able to leave the store, where he was pursued by Garcia, who shot him in the head, killing him, officials said.

Garcia was arrested a few weeks later when he killed another clerk, Gregory Martin, in a gas station robbery in Plano with the same shotgun used in the previous murder, the office said.

Martin had been on the phone with his girlfriend when Garcia and the same accomplice entered the store. He told his girlfriend to call the police for help, according to officials.

Police arrived on the scene and found Garcia hiding in a beer cooler. He was arrested and confessed to the two murders, officials said.

He was never tried in Martin's death.

(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)