Robert Anthony Martinez Perez, 48, was executed by lethal injection on 6 March 2007 in Huntsville, Texas for the gang-related murder of two men.
In 1994, Herbert Huerta, the founder and president of the Mexican Mafia in Texas, was sentenced to life in federal prison. Huerta named Diane "Laura" Guzman as general of the San Antonio division. A rival, Luis "Blue" Adams, challenged Guzman's appointment, and the organization split in two.
On 17 April 1994, Perez, then 41, Robert Herrera, and Frank Estrada, who were Huerta supporters, spotted Adams' car in San Antonio. After going home to arm themselves, they returned to the area and saw three of Adams' supporters - Jose and Jesse Travieso and Robert Rivas. They then opened fire, killing Jose Travieso and Robert Rivas, and wounding Jesse Travieso.
Over the next few years, Perez rose in the Mexican Mafia, or "Eme," in San Antonio, attaining the rank of general. He ordered and planned a successful hit on Adams several months after Travieso and Rivas were killed. He was also connected to one of the most bloody and notorious crimes in San Antonio history, when five people were killed in a West French Place apartment in 1997. Perez also ordered the killings of four members of his own organization, for disobeying orders or for talking about their activities. In all, prosecutors linked Perez to at least 15 murders in San Antonio.
When Perez was arrested at his home, officers recovered $30,000 in cash and large amounts of jewelry.
His trial for the Travieso and Rivas murders was held in Dallas County. Jesse Travieso testified against Perez, as did a member of Perez's gang who turned into an informant. Perez did not testify in his defense.
Perez had a previous conviction for attempted manslaughter for stabbing a man numerous times in the heart and stomach during a domestic disturbance in October 1986. He was sentenced to ten years in prison. He was paroled in August 1990. While on parole, Perez received convictions for aggravated assault and evading arrest. He was returned to prison for a short while in 1992, but was paroled again after four months. (At the time, parole for repeat offenders was common in Texas due to strict prison population caps imposed by U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice.) He was on parole at the time of the murders.
A jury convicted Perez of capital murder in May 1999 and sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence in September 2001. All of his subsequent appeals in state and federal court were denied.
Before being tried for the Travieso and Rivas murders, Perez was a co-defendant in a federal trial for the West French Place murders. He was convicted of racketeering and conspiracy and was sentenced to life in federal prison - a sentence he never served, since he received the death penalty in his state trial.
David Bires, Perez's lawyer, told reporters he thought Perez should have testified at his trial. "I felt like he had a fairly decent self-defense claim," Bires said. "There had been essentially another group of people that was plotting to assassinate him, and the two groups came into contact, and it resulted in a shooting. There was evidence shots were fired from both sides."
Jeff Mulliner, who was an assistant Bexar County district attorney during Perez's trial, said that Perez had "an abundance of charisma, a keen intellect, a sharp wit, and a sense of humor."
"I kind of appreciated all those things about him," Mulliner said. "Other than French Place, which is a footnote, I believe part of the honor of Robert Perez is he was not dangerous to an elderly lady trying to cross the street or to a young man on the bus to work. I think the only people in danger from Robert Perez were people he was associated with that didnít follow the rules."
Perez declined to be interviewed by reporters while he was on death row.
Perez's brother, wife, and two sons attended the execution. As he entered the execution chamber, his wife, Mary, said, "God bless you. You're still my hero. You'll always be my hero." Perez greeted all of his visitors by name and expressed love and encouragement to them. "Take care of them," he said to Mary. "I love you too." Perez then told the warden that he was ready to receive the lethal injection. "I got my boots on, like a cowboy." He was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m.
By David Carson. Posted on 7 March 2007.
Sources: Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Texas Attorney General's office, Associated Press, San Antonio Express-News.