Texas inmate Daniel Lee Lopez got his wish Wednesday when he was executed for striking and killing a police lieutenant with an SUV during a chase more than six years ago.
The lethal injection was carried out after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected appeals from his attorneys who disregarded both his desire to die and lower court rulings that Lopez was competent to make that decision.
“I hope this execution helps my family and also the victim’s family,” said Lopez, 27, who spoke quietly and quickly. “This was never meant to be, sure beyond my power. I can only walk the path before me and make the best of it. I’m sorry for putting you all through this. I am sorry. I love you. I am ready. May we all go to heaven.”
As the drugs took effect, he took two deep breaths, then two shallower breaths. Then all movement stopped.
He was pronounced dead at 6:31 p.m. CDT — 15 minutes after the lethal dose began.
Lopez’s “obvious and severe mental illness” was responsible for him wanting to use the legal system for suicide, illustrating his “well-documented history of irrational behavior and suicidal tendencies,” attorney David Dow, who represented Lopez, had told the high court. Dow also argued the March 2009 crime was not a capital murder because Lopez didn’t intend to kill Corpus Christi Lt. Stuart Alexander.
The officer’s widow, Vicky Alexander, and three friends who were witnesses with her prayed in the chamber before Lopez was pronounced dead by a doctor.
Alexander, 47, was standing in a grassy area on the side of a highway where he had put spike strips when he was struck by the sport utility vehicle Lopez was fleeing in.
Lopez, who also wrote letters to a federal judge and pleaded for his execution to move forward, said last week from death row that a Supreme Court reprieve would be “disappointing.”
“I’ve accepted my fate,” he said. “I’m just ready to move on.”
Nueces County District Attorney Mark Skurka said Lopez showed “no regard for human life” when he fought with an officer during a traffic stop, then sped away, evading pursuing officers and striking Alexander, who had been on the police force for 20 years.
Lopez was properly examined by a psychologist, testified at a federal court hearing about his desire to drop appeals and was found to have no mental defects, state attorneys said in opposing delays to the punishment.