A decade after Ruben Cantu was executed for capital murder, the only witness to the crime is recanting and his co-defendant says Cantu, then 17, was not even with him that night.
The victim was shot nine times with a rifle during an attempted robbery before the gunman shot the only witness.
That witness, Juan Moreno, told the Houston Chronicle for its Sunday editions that Cantu was not the killer. Moreno said he identified him at the 1985 trial because he felt pressured and feared authorities.
In discussing the death penalty with people before, I have expressed the opinion that while an innocent person being executed was possible, it was very unlikely given the number of checks and appeals a death row inmate has. This case certainly seems to throw some doubt on my assumptions.
This bit here is especially appalling:
Sam D. Millsap Jr., the district attorney who handled the case, said he never should have sought the death penalty in a case based on testimony from a witness who identified a suspect only after police showed him a photo three times.
No shit Sherlock.
I have been mildly pro-death penalty. I am convinced that it does little as a deterent, but I think that some crimes deserve it as a matter of justice. However, it is more important to not take life unjustly, and the fact that this appears to have occured fairly recently changes the equation.