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Published on February 28, 2024
Texas Prepares for Execution as New Evidence Places Ivan Cantu Case Under ScrutinySource: Texas Department of Criminal Justice

As Texas gears up to carry out its 587th execution since 1982, Ivan Cantu sits on death row with the clock ticking down to his final minutes. Convicted for the 2000 murder of his cousin, James Mosqueda, and Mosqueda's fiancée, Amy Kitchen, Cantu's case has been fraught with controversy as new evidence emerged, challenging the conviction that has kept him behind bars for 24 years. Yet, despite calls for a stay of execution, the state appears unswayed, according to a report from KXAN.

Recent developments cast significant doubt over Cantu's guilt. The state's primary witness has confessed to lying on the stand, and various pieces of evidence, including the victims’ time of death and alleged statements from Cantu, appear to directly contradict the case presented at trial. Discrepancies large enough to have prompted Jeff Calhoun, the jury foreperson from Cantu's 2001 trial, to step forward and question the verdict he helped to deliver. Calhoun told KXAN, "The trial itself was fabricated. That's the simple fact. And it's not over yet." He went on to argue that it felt like his "moral obligation" to see the new evidence carefully examined.

Cantu has always maintained his innocence, a stance seemingly supported by the subsequent recantation by Jeff Boettcher—brother of Cantu’s girlfriend at the time—who admitted he lied to protect his sister, per the Texas Tribune. Despite these revelations, the Texas courts continue to reject Cantu’s appeals. Most recently, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals have denied Cantu's clemency and last-minute requests to stay the execution.

Amid intense scrutiny, the Collin County District Attorney's office stands firm on its position, with District Attorney Greg Willis asserting to CNN his unwavering belief in Cantu's guilt, supported by "undeniable evidence presented at trial." Critics argue that the new evidence demands to be reexamined, and the public outcry for clemency has grown, drawing attention from faith leaders and celebrities. Kim Kardashian and others have rallied for a stay of Cantu's execution, making clear the breadth of concern for what many feel could be a miscarriage of justice.

Despite these efforts, as of now, Cantu's execution is set to proceed. Greg Willis was quoted by the Texas Tribune stating, "I remain fully convinced that Ivan Cantu brutally murdered two innocent victims in 2000." Meanwhile, Cantu’s supporters continue to campaign for a re-evaluation of the evidence in the hopes of preventing what they see as the potential execution of an innocent man.