Texas Execution Information Center

Execution Report: Juan Chavez

Juan Chavez
Juan Chavez
Executed on 22 April 2003

Juan Rodriguez Chavez, 34, was executed by lethal injection on 22 April 2003 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder and robbery of a 40-year-old man.

In the early morning of 2 July 1995, Chavez, then 37, and Hector Fernandez, a juvenile, drove to a Dallas apartment complex in a car they had just stolen. There, they saw Jose Morales and Yadira Ramirez standing outside, near some public telephones. Chavez exited the car and walked toward the telephones, as if he were going to make a call. He then exchanged words with Morales, then drew a revolver and shot him in the chest. After Morales fell to the ground, Chavez stole his wallet from his rear pants pocket. Chavez then shot Morales again. Morales died in the hospital.

Chavez and Fernandez then drove the stolen car to a construction site, where Chavez killed security guard Susan Ferguson by shooting her in the face and then running over her with the car. Forty minutes later, Chavez shot another security guard, Kevin Hancock, in an apartment complex, leaving him permanently paralyzed. Ten minutes after that, Chavez and Fernandez robbed three men standing by the roadside. Chavez shot and killed Jesus Briseno, while Fernandez, using a 9 mm pistol stolen from Hancock, shot and wounded Francisco James and Alberto Guevara.

About an hour later, Chavez and Fernandez drove back to the apartment complex where they shot Kevin Hancock. They found two people, Alfonso Contreras and Guadalupe Delgadillo-Pena, sitting inside a pickup truck. Chavez approached the truck and fired into the cab, killing Contreras and wounding Delgadillo. Chavez then stole the truck with both victims still inside. Fernandez followed him in the other stolen car. Shortly thereafter, Chavez pushed Contreras' body from the truck and ran over it. The bandits drove the stolen vehicles to the Trinity River. There, Fernandez fatally shot Delgadillo in the head and Chavez ran over her body.

At approximately 4:00 a.m., Chavez drove the stolen pickup truck to an exit off of Interstate 20 and burned it. In a crime spree that lasted less than four hours, Chavez and Fernandez had killed five people, paralyzed another, and wounded two others.

Two days later, Chavez shot and killed three men -- Antonio Banda, Michael Duran, and Antonio Rios, for obstructing the entrance to a tire shop from which he, Fernandez, and a third accomplice planned to steal a car.

Chavez committed his first murder at age 17. In February 1987, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing Vicente Mendoza with a deadly weapon. While in prison, Chavez received over 40 disciplinary violations, including attacking a guard and another prisoner. Nevertheless, he was paroled after 7 years, in March 1994, because of strict prison population caps imposed by U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice.

Chavez committed his second murder in March 1995, when he shot and killed Jose Castillo and stole his car keys. In May 1995, he shot and killed Juan Pablo Hernandez and stole his car.

Chavez was nicknamed the "The Thrill Killer" by the media.

Fernandez testified against Chavez at his trial in exchange for a sentence of aggravated robbery. Just before the judge passed the sentence, Chavez said, "I still say I'm not guilty."

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