A Cuban-born man identified as a leader in a Hispanic prison gang was executed Tuesday evening for the robbery-slaying of a Houston drug dealer more than 10 years ago.
Yosvanis "El Cubano" Valle, 34, had denied fatally shooting 28-year-old Jose Martin Junco at a Houston home in June 1999 but said there was little he could do to avoid lethal injection once he lost appeals in the courts.
Before his execution, Valle apologized in final words spoken alternately in English and Spanish.
"I'm not going to blame nobody; I'm going to blame myself," Valle said from the death chamber gurney. "I'm sorry from all my heart.
"That's the reality of life. I am sorry. I got to pay for it."
He became the 21st prisoner executed in Texas this year when he was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m. CST, nine minutes after the lethal drugs began flowing into his arms.
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles last week rejected a request from Valle's lawyers that his death sentence be commuted to life in prison.
Junco, known as "Yogi," was confronted at his Houston home by several men connected to a prison gang who had targeted him for robbery. Court documents showed the June 1999 holdup was a test devised by Valle to see if one of the gang members, Kenneth Isaac Estrada, had the courage to shoot Junco.
Estrada, tried separately, received life in prison.