Man executed in torture, rape and slaying of girls
Derrick Sean O'Brien apologized profusely before being executed Tuesday evening for the torture, rape and strangling of two teenage girls in Houston 13 years ago.
"I am sorry. I have always been sorry," O'Brien said, holding his head up from the gurney and looking straight at relatives of his victims.
"I hurt a lot of people, you and my family."
He repeated again and again that he was sorry.
O'Brien, 31, was pronounced dead at 6:19 p.m.
He was one of six members of a loose-knit gang convicted of killing Elizabeth Pena, 16, and Jennifer Ertman, 14.
Ertman's father and Pena's parents were among the execution witnesses.
"It's been a long time coming," Adolfo Pena said. "I wish we could have done all six at once. We finally, finally got some justice for Elizabeth and Jennifer."
Pena said O'Brien's apology "didn't mean much to me. It doesn't bring my daughter back."
On May 15, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals gave O'Brien a reprieve a day before he was to be executed. Days later, however, the court lifted its order. His appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was rejected late Tuesday afternoon.
On June 24, 1993, the girls took a shortcut home from a friend's house about 11:30 p.m. and stumbled onto the gang drinking beer beside a railroad trestle. They had been initiating Raul Villareal by making him fight each of the others.
The girls were raped for more than an hour, and were kicked and beaten before being strangled. A red nylon belt was pulled so tightly around Jennifer's neck that it snapped.
A tip from a brother of one of the gang members led police to them.
In 1994, five of them were sentenced to death. Criminal justice experts could find no record of another case in which so many people were condemned for one crime.
A sixth member, Vernancio Medellin, was 14 at the time and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Two of the death sentences, for Efrain Perez and Villarreal, were commuted to life in prison when the Supreme Court last year barred the execution of people who were 17 or under at the time of their crimes.
The case of Jose Medellin, brother of Vernancio, is in legal limbo. Medellin is among about 50 Mexican nationals in nine states who argue that under international law they should have been allowed assistance from the Mexican Consulate before trial.
Peter Cantu, described by authorities as ringleader of the gang, who was 19 when the girls were killed, remains on Death Row without an execution date set.
O'Brien executed for rape-murders
Texas executes man for rape, murder of two teens