Texas Execution Information Center

Execution Report: Ivan Cantu

Ivan Cantu
Ivan Cantu
Executed on 28 February 2024

Ivan Abner Cantu, 50, was executed by lethal injection on 28 February 2024 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder and robbery of his cousin and his cousin's fiance in their home.

James Mosqueda was a mortgage banker in Dallas. Sometime in 1998 or 1999, he hired his cousin, Cantu, to work for him. Mosqueda terminated Cantu's employment in mid-2000. Mosqueda also dealt cocaine and marijuana. He lived in north Dallas with his girlfriend, Amy Kitchen.

On 15 October 2000, Cantu, his girlfriend, Amy Boettcher, and her brother, Jeff Boettcher, moved into an apartment about a mile from Mosqueda's residence. Later that month, Cantu told Jeff Boettcher that he intended to kill Mosqueda in order to steal his money and drugs.

On Friday, 3 November 2000, Cantu, then 27, phoned Mosqueda and asked if he could come over to talk. After hanging up the phone, Cantu told Amy Boettcher that he was going to kill Mosqueda and Kitchen. He drove away in his Honda automobile. He returned about an hour later driving Kitchen's Mercedes. Boettcher observed that his face was swollen and his clothes were bloody. He told her, "It wasn't pretty." He removed his blue jeans and instructed Boettcher to put them in a bag. Instead, she put them in the kitchen garbage can.

As Amy Boettcher testified at Cantu's trial, after Cantu cleaned himself up on the night of the murders, he made her go with him to Mosqueda's house to see what he had done. They drove Kitchen's Mercedes and parked it in the garage. Boettcher testified that she saw the victims' bodies through the doorway to the master bedroom. Cantu searched the house for drugs and money. They drove away in Mosqueda's Corvette and went to Arkansas for a planned visit with her stepfather. Boettcher testified that Cantu gave her a diamond engagement ring he had stolen from Kitchen and began telling people that he and Boettcher were engaged.

On Saturday, the Dallas Fire Department forcibly entered the Mosqueda residence at the request of Amy Kitchen's mother. They found both Mosqueda, 27, and Kitchen, 22, dead of multiple gunshot wounds in their bedroom. Mosqueda was in bed, lying face up, and Kitchen was lying face down on the floor. There was no sign of forced entry other than the fire department's. In the course of autopsies, one bullet was retrieved from Mosqueda's body, and four bullets were retrieved from Kitchen's.

On 5 November at about 3:00 a.m., Dallas police found Mosqueda's Chevrolet Corvette parked near Cantu's front door.

On 7 November, police searched Cantu's apartment pursuant to a warrant. They found a set of keys. One opened a door to Mosqueda's house. Another operated Kitchen's Mercedes. The police also found bloody jeans and socks in the kitchen garbage can. DNA testing matched the blood on the jeans to Mosqueda and the blood on the socks to Kitchen.

On 9 November, police recovered a .380 caliber semiautomatic pistol from the home of Tawny Svihovec, Cantu's former girlfriend. Fingerprints on the weapon were matched to Cantu. Blood on the barrel was matched to Mosqueda. Ballistics testing matched the weapon to the bullets recovered from the victims' bodies.

Boettcher further testified that the night before the murders, she and Cantu had argued. In his anger, Cantu shot a pistol at her head. When she tried to leave, he slammed the door on her hand, held the gun to her head, and told her he was "serious."

Cantu's first wife, Michelle Traister, testified that during their marriage, Cantu threw her to the floor, beat her head against concrete and tile surfaces, choked her, and threatened to kill her.

The defense theorized that Mosqueda and Kitchen were murdered by rival drug dealers, who framed Cantu as the killer. The defense disputed the credibility of the state's principal witness, Amy Boettcher, who was a "doper."

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