Rogelio Cannady Jr., 37, was executed by lethal injection on 19 May 2010 in Huntsville, Texas for killing a fellow prison inmate.
At age 17, Cannady assaulted a fellow teenager while attempting to steal a bicycle. On 29 June 1990 - the day he was released on bond - Cannady killed Ricardo Garcia, 16, and Ana Robles, 13 - both runaways from a youth home. Garcia was stabbed 13 times. Robles was raped and strangled.
On 28 May 1991, Cannady was transferred from the Cameron County Jail to the McConnell Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Beeville with two consecutive life sentences for murder, as well as a concurrent 20-year sentence for the earlier robbery.
On 10 October 1993, Cannady, then 21, beat his 55-year-old cellmate, Leovigildo Bonal, with a steel padlock attached to the end of his belt. While Bonal was unconscious, Cannady tied his hands behind his back. He also kicked Bonal repeatedly in the head with steel-toed boots. Cannady then dismantled the lock and disposed of most of it in the cell's commode. He hid the belt and the remainder of the lock in his boots.
Bonal was serving a 15-year sentence for murder. He died two days after the attack.
In order for a murder to qualify as capital murder, one or more aggravating factors must be present. In most capital murder cases, the aggravating factor is that the murder was committed alongside another felony, such as burglary, robbery, or rape. In 1993, the Texas Legislature revised the capital murder statute. The new law made being a prisoner serving a life sentence or 99-year sentence for murder or certain other felonies into an aggravating factor. This revised statute went into effect on 1 September 1993.
Before his trial began, Cannady's lawyers argued that the revised statute did not apply in his case because the offenses for which he received life sentences were committed prior to 1 September 1993. The trial judge agreed with this assessment and reduced the charge against him from capital murder to murder.
The state appealed the trial court's ruling. The Thirteenth Court of Appeals reversed it, holding that the effective date of the revised capital murder statute applied to the date that the instant offense was committed, not to the prior offenses that elevated the charge to capital murder. The "ex post facto" clause of the U.S. Constitution was not violated because Cannady's crime was defined as capital murder before he committed it. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case, thereby allowing the appeal's court's interpretation of the statute to hold.
Once the trial was underway, Cannady claimed he killed Bonal in self-defense. He testified that Bonal had made several sexually suggestive comments to him that were ominous in a prison setting. He also said that Bonal once sat near him and rubbed his leg. Cannady testified that on the night of the killing, he saw Bonal touching himself sexually. He confronted Bonal and hit him in the face. It then seemed that Bonal was trying to reach for something, so Cannady attached his lock to his belt and began beating him. He kept hitting Bonal because Bonal kept coming toward him.
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