Texas Execution Information Center

Execution Report: Heliberto Chi

Heliberto Chi
Heliberto Chi
Executed on 7 August 2008

Heliberto Chi, 29, was executed by lethal injection on 7 August 2008 in Huntsville, Texas for the robbery and murder of a store manager.

On 24 March 2001 in Arlington, Armand Paliotta, 56, manager of K&G Men's Superstore, closed and locked the doors at 7:00 p.m. He and two other employees remained in the store to attend to closing duties. At around 8:00 p.m., Chi, then 22, knocked on the door. Chi, who was a former employee of the business, told Paliotta that he had left his wallet in the store during a visit earlier in the day. Paliotta allowed Chi to come inside to look for his wallet.

After making a trip through the store, Chi returned to the front door, pulled out a handgun, and demanded the money bag containing the stores' receipts. He also told the employees to move to the back of the store. As they were walking, Paliotta pushed Chi and began running to the front of the store. Chi ran after him, then stopped and fired at him. Employee Adrian Riojas, 18, then began running into the storeroom, and Chi pursued him. Riojas found himself trapped. Chi shot Riojas in the back as Riojas attempted to run away. Employee Gloria Mendoza, who hid in some clothing racks and called 911, was not injured. With police on the way, Chi jumped into a car where his accomplice, Alejandro Sierra, was waiting, and sped off. Riojas was treated at a hospital and survived. Paliotta died. Chi was later arrested in California after his girlfriend, Erica Sierra, contacted the police about his involvement in the crime.

During his trial, Chi flirted with several women in the courtroom, including court reporter Liz Hogan. A note from Hogan written on self-sticking paper was found on the bottom of Chi's chair that read, "Can I trust you?" Hogan was disciplined over this incident, including being barred from working as a court reporter in criminal trials for two years.

Adrian Riojas and Gloria Mendoza testified against Chi at his trial. Evidence presented at Chi's punishment hearing showed that in March 2001, he robbed a convenience store, tying and gagging the clerk at gunpoint. He also stole a laptop computer from a bank in June 1998, had been fired from a construction job for altering his paychecks, and burglarized an apartment complex in September 1997. At the time of his arrest, he was wanted in Florida for auto theft.

Erica Sierra testified that Chi told her he wanted to pay someone to kill Gloria Mendoza because she saw him shoot Paliotta and Riojas. She also said that during their relationship, he was physically abusive, and that when she tried to leave him and call her father, he pulled the phone out of the wall, threw her into the wall, and slammed her head into the wall.

Numerous jailers and bailiffs testified that while Chi was being detailed for trial, he was a constant disciplinary problem, arguing with them, resisting them, and arguing and fighting with other inmates.

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