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Editorial Cartoon: Peace in Gaza
Editorial Cartoon: Peace in Gaza
Published April 19, 2024

Man executed for 1997 murder of U student

A man convicted of killing a University student in 1997 was executed Thursday.

David Martinez was executed in Huntsville, Texas, for the July 1997 murder of University student Kiersa Paul.

“Only the sky and the green grass goes on forever, and today is a good day to die,” Martinez said as his last statement before the lethal injection began.

Martinez was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m., eight minutes after the lethal dose began.

Paul was a sophomore art student at the University who was visiting her sister in Austin, Texas, for the summer and working as a cashier.

The night of the murder, she told her sister she was meeting a man named “Wolf,” a name Martinez went by. She met him through mutual friends.

According to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a jogger found Paul’s body beside a Zilker Park trail on July 23, 1997. She was raped, strangled and her throat was cut.

Martinez went home that night with a bicycle that was not his. A police search of his home also produced Paul’s bicycle bag and a Swiss army knife with blood that matched Paul’s DNA.

Martinez was convicted of capital murder on Oct. 29, 1998, and sentenced to death on Dec. 1, 1998.

According to court files, a social worker who visited Martinez’s childhood home testified that she believed Martinez was abused and neglected as a child. Martinez’s probation officer from an earlier offense also testified that Martinez moved out of his mother’s house because of abuse and neglect. The courts decided there was not enough evidence of abuse to rule out giving Martinez the death penalty.

But not all were pleased with the execution of Martinez.

David Elliot, the communication director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, said his group was “disappointed” at the execution.

Elliot said life in prison is a better sentence.

“You can protect the public without having to execute people,” Elliot said.

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