Arrow-right Camera


Pleas, Protest Fail To Stop Texas Execution Mexican Dies For 1985 Slaying; Supporters Say Confession Unjust

A Mexican man was executed for murder Wednesday amid failed pleas by his government to spare his life and an angry outcry from supporters who blocked a bridge spanning the two countries.

Irineo Montoya, 30, was executed by injection for the 1985 stabbing and beating death of John Kilheffer, who had given Montoya and a companion a ride.

Montoya’s final words, in Spanish, were to his father and a woman. Montoya smiled and nodded to them as they watched through glass a few feet away.

“Goodbye. I will wait for you in heaven,” he said. “I will be waiting for you. I love my parents. I am at peace with God. Fight for the good.”

Montoya took a deep breath and gasped twice as the drugs took effect. He appeared to be muttering or praying just before he stopped breathing.

“May this sacrifice be for the good and bring justice to all who deserve justice and not for the use of evil,” he said in a statement released by prison officials. “I apologize and beg for forgiveness to whomever I had offended, hurt and disrespected.”

Kilheffer’s sister, Jean Hess, of Lancaster, Pa., said: “He deserves it. What got us was he was so cocky and arrogant.”

After the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Montoya’s 11th-hour appeals, Gov. George W. Bush refused to grant Montoya a 30-day reprieve, saying he had a fair trial.

But supporters contend that the laborer with a fifth-grade education signed a confession in English that he didn’t understand, had no lawyer present when he signed it and was not allowed to contact the Mexican consulate when arrested, violating an international treaty.

Montoya was the second Mexican to be executed in Texas. Ramon Montoya, who is unrelated, was executed in March 1993 for killing a Dallas police officer.

On a bridge linking Brownsville, Texas, and Matamoros, Mexico, scores of Mexicans screamed and cried when their countryman was put to death. The group, which numbered 300 at one point, had blocked the bridge after learning that Bush denied a reprieve.

“We are here in defense of Irineo. He is not guilty,” said Jose Montoya Laguna, the condemned man’s uncle.