- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 21, 2014

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) - Attorneys for a Mexican national on Texas death row considered additional appeals to block his impending execution for the slaying of a Houston police officer after a federal judge Tuesday rejected their request for an injunction to contest a clemency process they argued was unfair and secretive.

Edgar Arias Tamayo, 46, is scheduled to die by lethal injection Wednesday for the 1994 shooting death of Officer Guy Gaddis, 24.

U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel ruled late Tuesday that clemency procedures in place in the nation’s most active death penalty state provided Tamayo with adequate due process and complied with federal appeals court and U.S. Supreme Court guidance.

His imminent punishment has agitated the Mexican government, which contends his case was tainted because Tamayo wasn’t advised under an international treaty that he could get legal help from his home nation following his arrest.

Secretary of State John Kerry asked Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott last September to delay Tamayo’s execution, and State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf repeated the desire Tuesday, saying the U.S. must comply with international rules that guarantee consular access to foreign nationals. Failure to do so makes it more difficult to ensure American diplomats can visit U.S. citizens when they are detained overseas, she said.

The State Department was asking only for a delay in Tamayo’s execution so officials can study whether his denial of consular access prejudiced the outcome of the case, she said.

Abbott’s office opposed any delays.

The execution would be the first this year in Texas, where 16 prisoners were put to death last year.

“We are continuing to pursue our options for appeal, and vindication of Mr. Tamayo’s right to review of the consular rights violation in his case,” said Maurie Levin, one of Tamayo’s lawyers.

The Mexican government and the prisoner’s attorneys contended Tamayo was entitled to legal help from the Mexican consulate under a provision of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. The legal assistance once he was in custody could have uncovered evidence to contest the capital murder charge or provide evidence to keep Tamayo off death row, they said.

“We have a legal team working on the case and any last-minute legal recourses,” Euclides Del Moral, spokesman for the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said.

The foreign ministry, groups opposed to the death penalty, international human rights organizations and Tamayo’s lawyers also focused on Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. The seven-member panel can recommend that Perry grant clemency, but Perry and the board rarely have done so in death penalty cases.

“It doesn’t matter where you’re from,” Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said. “If you commit a despicable crime like this in Texas, you are subject to our state laws, including a fair trial by jury and the ultimate penalty.”

Attorneys said Tamayo was in the U.S. without legal permission and records show he had a criminal record in California, where he was paroled after a robbery conviction.

He had been arrested by Gaddis for a robbery at a Houston bar. Gaddis, a Houston police officer for two years, was shot three times in his patrol car as he was driving Tamayo and another man from the robbery scene.

Evidence showed Tamayo had concealed a pistol in his pants. The car crashed and Tamayo fled on foot, but was captured a few blocks away - still in handcuffs, carrying the robbery victim’s watch and wearing the victim’s necklace.

Legal challenges about consular notification and Mexican nationals on Texas death row aren’t new. At least two other inmates in similar circumstances have been executed in Texas in recent years.

The suit against Perry and the board he appoints sought an injunction to keep the panel from ruling on a clemency petition for Tamayo and the governor from acting on it until enactment of “procedural safeguards to ensure a fair and unbiased consideration of the clemency request,” Tamayo’s attorneys said in a federal court filing.

The current procedures, which require board members to individually review evidence, are confidential under state law and “have not traditionally been the business of courts” although they meet guarantees set out by the U.S. Supreme Court, said Thomas Jones, an assistant attorney general, in a court filing.

“An inmate has no substantive expectation of clemency,” Jones said.

Tamayo was among more than four dozen Mexican nationals awaiting execution in the U.S. when the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, ruled in 2004 they hadn’t been advised properly of their consular rights. The U.S. Supreme Court subsequently said hearings urged by the international court could be held only if Congress implemented legislation to do so. Such legislation never has been passed.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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