The Texas execution chamber in Huntsville. (Pat Sullivan/AP)

An inmate in Texas convicted of killing a young boy in 1998 was executed Wednesday night, hours after the U.S. Supreme Court declined his request to halt the execution.

When asked if he had a final statement before his lethal injection, Pablo Vasquez, 38, looked at some of the victim’s relatives and apologized, the Associated Press reported.

“This is the only way that I can be forgiven,” he said, according to the AP. “You got your justice right here.”

Vasquez was convicted in 1999 of murdering David Cardenas, a 12-year-old boy. According to court records, Vasquez told police he had hit Cardenas in the head with a pipe and cut his throat. Vasquez also told police that he had heard voices telling him to drink the boy’s blood, these filings state.

Cardenas’s body was “mutilated after death” before being buried in a field, judges with U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit wrote last year. In addition, they wrote that Vasquez took a gold ring and chain from the boy.

Vasquez’s attorneys had said in the past that he had an intellectual disability. In a filing last month, an attorney argued that Vasquez had shown that he was mentally ill, writing that Vasquez had told a detective about hearing voices urging him to kill the boy and “drink, drink” the boy’s blood.


Pablo Vasquez in an undated picture released by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. (via Reuters)

In arguing for a stay, his attorneys said that Vasquez was denied a fair jury during his trial because qualified jurors were excused because they may have had feelings “against the death penalty” or “against judging others.”

The office of Ken Paxton, the Texas attorney general, dismissed the claims about the jury, saying that Vasquez did not establish that the jurors were “improperly excluded from jury service.”

Vasquez is the 11th inmate put to death in the United States this year. More than half of these have taken place in Texas.

Executions have declined nationwide in recent years amid a shortage of lethal injection drugs and legal challenges. Texas remains a persistent outlier. Since 2010, it has carried out at least 10 executions in each of the past five years; only one other state during that window carried out 10 executions in a single year (Missouri in 2014).

Vasquez’s application to the Supreme Court for a stay of execution was referred to the full court by Justice Clarence Thomas. The court declined the appeal without explanation Wednesday afternoon and there were no recorded dissents.

Further reading:

Executions in the U.S. were down last year. The country still put more inmates to death than most other nations

Two Supreme Court justices wrote a dissent this year questioning whether the death penalty is constitutional

What it was like watching a botched Oklahoma execution

Innocent man who spent 30 years on death row died hours before Supreme Court justices cited him

Lethal injection has become a fractured process across the United States

This story has been updated after the execution occurred.