Texas plans its third execution of the year

Prison inmate Ray Jasper is seen in an undated mugshot handout provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. (Texas Dept of Criminal Justice handout via Reuters)
Prison inmate Ray Jasper is seen in an undated mugshot. (Texas Department of Criminal Justice handout via Reuters)

[UPDATE: He was pronounced dead at 6:31 p.m. on Wednesday.]

Texas plans to execute Ray Jasper, a man sentenced to death for his role in the 1998 killing of David Alejandro, on Wednesday evening.

Jasper, described as an aspiring rapper who had recorded music at a studio owned by Alejandro, was convicted of capital murder for the 1998 slaying. “Jasper slashed Alejandro’s throat from ear to ear, but did not kill him,” the office of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said last week. Jasper and an accomplice then stabbed Alejandro to death, after which Jasper covered Alejandro’s body with a sheet and they proceeded to load equipment from Alejandro’s studio into a van. (Jasper’s accomplices were sentenced to life in prison.)

An attempt to appeal the execution was rejected by a federal judge in San Antonio this week.

In Texas, inmates are executed with an injection of pentobarbital, according to the state’s Department of Criminal Justice. States have scrambled recently to deal with a shortage of lethal injection drugs, which has resulted in states essentially experimenting, according to Richard C. Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. The first four executions this year used four different drug protocols.

“There’s not a settled way to carry out executions,” Dieter told The Post last month.

But Texas told the Associated Press last fall that it had enough drugs to carry out executions scheduled into this year, noting in documents that it had purchased several vials of pentobarbital from a compounding pharmacy in the state. (UPDATE – 4:21 P.M.: Texas has obtained a new supply of lethal injection drugs weeks before its existing supply expired, according to the AP.)

A majority of Americans support the death penalty, with 60 percent favoring it in a Gallup poll last year; but that number has declined significantly over the last two decades.

On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals postponed two executions originally scheduled for this week and next week because the state seemed unable to get the drugs needed for the execution.

If Jasper’s execution is carried out, it will be the third of the year for Texas and the 11th execution so far this year nationwide. Texas, the first state in the country to execute an inmate, currently has five other executions scheduled this year.

Jasper said in a letter to Gawker last month that he didn’t kill Alejandro and decried the death penalty. (This was one of many letters from people on death row that Gawker has published as part of an ongoing series.) In response, Steven Alejandro — David’s brother — wrote that while he was personally opposed to the death penalty, he felt that Jasper (who he called “unrepentant and blind to his guilt”) was not a worthy example of why capital punishment should be discontinued.

Alejandro’s family has said it’s unlikely most of them will attend the execution.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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Mark Berman · March 19