Texas Execution Information Center

Execution Report: Samuel Bustamante

Samuel Bustamante
Samuel Bustamante
Executed on 27 April 2010

Samuel Bustamante, 40, was executed by lethal injection on 27 April 2010 in Huntsville, Texas for killing a man in an attempted robbery.

On 18 January 1998, Bustamante, then 28; Dedrick Depriest, 20; Arthur Escamilla, 29; and Walter Escamilla drove from El Campo to Rosenberg, southwest of Houston. Before leaving, Bustamante told Solomon Escamilla and Brandy Riha that he and the others were going "shopping" - their term for finding a "wetback" (i.e. an illegal Mexican immigrant) after the bars closed, offering him a ride, taking him to a deserted location, beating him, and stealing his money and jewelry.

After some time, they noticed Rafael Alvarado. Bustamante observed that Alvarado's clothing was in good condition, and his watch appeared to be made of "real gold". Alvarado offered to pay the men to give him a ride across town. They agreed, so Alvarado climbed into the bed of the pickup, with Bustamante and Walter. Depriest was in the cab of the truck along with Arthur, who was driving. After about fifteen minutes, Bustamante asked Walter if he was ready. Walter told him to wait. Nevertheless, Bustamante then stood up and stabbed Alvarado ten times with a knife. Alvarado struggled against his attackers and broke free, falling to the ground from the moving truck. The men stopped the truck to look for him, but were unable to find him in the darkness, so they left.

After returning from Rosenberg, Bustamante told Solomon and Richard Escamilla to wash the truck before daylight. There was blood in the bed of the truck and a handprint on the tailgate. Bustamante told Solomon that they had gotten hold of a man, but he fell out of the truck. Later that day, Bustamante's brother, Bill, 25, drove them back to the scene to search for the victim, but they were unable to find him.

Following a trail of blood, Rosenberg police found Alvarado's body in a ditch in Fort Bend county. His death was caused by stab wounds to the heart and liver and the attendant loss of blood.

In order to qualify as capital murder, one or more aggravating factors must be present. Texas' capital murder statute includes attempted robbery in its list of aggravating factors.

At his trial, Bustamante admitted killing Alvarado. He also admitted that he and the others went to Rosenberg to go "shopping", and that was code for picking up someone from a bar and robbing him. Nonetheless, he claimed that he did not intend to rob Alvarado.

In addition to Bustamante's own incriminating testimony and the testimonies of Solomon Escamilla and Brandy Riha, Dedrick Depriest testified that, as they searched for Alvarado in the darkness for about fifteen minutes, Bustamante stated that he wanted the victim's boots.

Bustamante had served parts of three different prison sentences. In December 1988, he began serving a 5-year sentence for burglary of a building. He was paroled after a year. While on parole, he received a new conviction for possessing a prohibited weapon. He served 6 months of a 4-year sentence before receiving parole again in February 1991. (At the time, early release was common in Texas due to strict prison population caps imposed by U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice.)

After receiving parole, Bustamante moved to North Carolina. He was quickly in prison again, on a 1-year sentence for forgery that began in April 1991. He was paroled after serving 5 months. After that, he racked up convictions for shooting a gun within city limits, carrying a concealed weapon, making threatening communications, resisting arrest, and possessing marijuana. Some time after his last conviction in December 1992, he returned to Texas.

During the punishment phase of his capital murder trial, Bustamante confessed to the murder of Lloyd Harold Turner on 13 February 1998. He said that he and his brother targeted the homeless man to "work out some aggravation". He stabbed Turner ten to twenty times while his brother beat him with a baseball bat. They left his body under an overpass of highway U.S. 59.

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