This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
UPDATED: George Ochoa has been executed.
Oklahoma death row inmate George Ochoa, 38, was executed tonight at the state prison in McAlester for the 1993 shooting deaths of a couple in Oklahoma City.
Ochoa was convicted, along with Osbaldo Torres, in the deaths of Francisco Morales and Maria Yanez, who were shot to death in their bed during a home invasion on July 12, 1993.
Torres, a Mexican citizen, was also sentenced to death, however, his sentence was commuted to life without parole in 2004 by then-Governor Brad Henry, after the Mexican government raised concerns that he was not allowed to speak with the Mexican consulate after his arrest.
Ochoa’s attorney had argued that he is insane and should not be executed. According to a Chicago Tribune article, Ochoa’s lawyer, James Hankins, “has said in court documents that Ochoa has become so irrational that he can no longer communicate with him.”
The U.S. 10th Circuit of Appeals denied Ochoa’s claim that his mental health should prevent him from being executed and on Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court also denied his appeal.
Ochoa maintained his innocence in the crimes and asked the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board to grant him clemency. The board rejected his request by a vote of 4-1.
From a story by Sean Murphy in The Oklahoman: ” ‘I didn’t kill those people,’ Ochoa told the board via video conference from the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester during the Nov. 16 hearing. Ochoa also claimed he was being ‘shocked’ and ‘tortured’ by one of his victims, a claim that prosecutors say may be an attempt to feign incompetence. He made similar allegations of being tortured and burned in a handwritten letter last month to the 10th Circuit Court.”
For his last meal, Ochoa requested a meat lover’s pizza and a large Coke. According to an account of the execution in the McAlester News-Capital, Ochoa used his final statement to proclaim his innocence. From the story:
OSP Deputy Warden Art Lightle asked Ochoa if he had any last words.
“I’m innocent,” Ochoa said.
Ochoa spoke no other words than those.
At 6:02 p.m. Lightle said, “Let the execution begin.”
He was pronounced dead at 6:07 p.m. CST.
Ochoa was the 6th execution in the state in 2012 and the 41st in the United States. The execution was protested by members of the Oklahoma Coalition Against the Death Penalty.