EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: 51/101/92
Appeals from Mexican citizens are considered to be particularly useful.
3 September 1992
Further information on EXTRA 48/92 (AMR 51/63/92, 7 May 1992) and follow-ups
AMR 51/67/92 of 12 May 1992 - Death Penalty
USA (Texas): Ricardo ALDAPE GUERRA, Mexican
Ricardo Aldape Guerra is scheduled to be executed by the state of Texas, USA,
on 24 September 1992. A previous execution date set for 12 May 1992, was
postponed a day before the execution, pending further hearings on his case.
He has exhausted most avenues of legal appeal, and this date is considered
to be extremely serious.
Ricardo Aldape Guerra, a Mexican undocumented worker, was sentenced to death
on 4 October 1982 for the murder of a white police officer, James Harris.
Officer Harris was shot as he approached the car in which Aldape Guerra and
a companion, Roberto Carrasco Flores, were travelling, after entering the USA
illegally to look for work. Both men fled and were subsequently involved in
a shootout with police during which Carrasco Flores was killed and Aldape Guerra
alone was arrested for murder. According to his defence counsel, there are
strong doubts as to whether Aldape Guerra actually fired the shot which killed
Officer Harris, and Aldape Guerra himself has denied shooting the officer.
Although both men were armed, the murder weapon and Officer Harris' service
revolver were found on Flores, and there was no forensic evidence to link Aldape
Guerra to the murder. He was convicted on the basis of eye witness testimony
(challenged by the defense), and the prosecution's theory that the two men
swapped their weapons. Aldape Guerra was aged 20 at the time of the crime.
Aldape Guerra's lawyers have argued that community prejudice against Mexican
undocumented migrant workers jeopardized his right to a fair trial after there
was substantial pretrial publicity in Houston, where the crime occurred. On
appeal, two judges on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals felt the state's
evidence was insufficient to uphold Aldape Guerra's conviction and death
sentence. However, Aldape Guerra's conviction was affirmed. In a letter to
Governor Richards of Texas, on 8 May 1992, President Carlos Salinas de Gortari
of Mexico issued a formal appeal for clemency on his behalf. The execution
was postponed on 11 May 1992.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases as a violation
of the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or
degrading punishment, as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human
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