HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — The criminal history of condemned prisoner Arturo Diaz is at odds with the Rio Grande Valley man's description of himself.
"I've really never been a violent person," he told a South Texas television station recently from death row.
Diaz, 37, is set for execution Thursday evening for the slaying of a 25-year-old man who was stabbed nearly 100 times during a robbery in McAllen. He also has two life prison terms for attempted capital murder and aggravated robbery, plus a 94-year sentence for aggravated sexual assault.
Diaz's scheduled lethal injection would be the 13th this year in Texas, the nation's busiest capital punishment state.
Texas has used the sedative pentobarbital as the lone execution drug for more than a year, but Diaz would be the first in the state to receive the barbiturate supplied from a vendor or manufacturer Texas prison officials have declined to identify.
The expiration date on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's existing inventory passed this month, meaning its effectiveness could be compromised. That forced Texas, like other death penalty states, to seek nontraditional sources for execution drugs because the usual suppliers have bowed to pressure from capital punishment opponents and have refused to make their product available.
South Dakota, for example, turned to a compounding pharmacy, which custom-makes drugs for customers and is not subjected to federal scrutiny, to provide the drug to carry out two executions.
Diaz's attorney, James Terry Jr., focused his court appeals to block the punishment on what he argued was previous shoddy legal help at Diaz's trial and early in the appeals process, rather than the drug issue.
"It's interesting, but I don't know that it gets me anywhere on what I'm trying to do," Terry said of any legal challenge to the drug revision.
In his appeals, Terry argued recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings should allow him to raise previously unsuccessful challenges that Diaz's trial lawyers were deficient for not fully explaining a plea deal offered by Hidalgo County prosecutors. He also argued that attorneys never reached out to Diaz's relatives to testify about his unstable childhood.
Court records show Diaz's relatives didn't want to testify and Diaz didn't want them to testify. Terry also contended Diaz's initial appeals attorney was equally deficient.
Diaz was convicted of capital murder for the April 1999 slaying of Michael Nichols. Evidence showed Nichols was tied up at his McAllen apartment, robbed of $50 and stabbed 94 times. Diaz also was convicted of attempted capital murder and aggravated robbery of another man who survived. In addition, Diaz confessed to a slaying a month earlier where the victim's head was stomped and face beaten with a hammer.
"I really don't remember what happened that night ... but everybody was having fun and so high," Diaz told TV station KRGV.
In 2002, he told a McAllen newspaper, The Monitor, he was high on drugs and alcohol.
"I did it," he said. "But my mind says it wasn't me."