Texas Executes Convicted Killer

Arturo Diaz (Texas prison photo)

HUNTSVILLE (September 26, 2013)—Texas death row inmate Arturo Diaz, 37, was executed Thursday evening for a violent robbery in 1999 during which the victim was stabbed 94 times.

Diaz and his co-defendant, identified in online records as Joe Cordova, escaped with $50.

The victim, Michael Ryan Nichols, 25, was in McAllen on business when he was killed on April 2, 1999 in an apartment owned by the company for which he worked.

A co-worker who was also staying in the apartment was awakened by a loud noise that night and found Nichols bleeding from a stab wound.

Diaz, who was holding a large butcher knife, grabbed the co-worker’s shirt and pushed him down the hall to the bedroom, demanding cash, records show.

After getting money from man’s wallet, Diaz led the man back to the living room and ordered him to sit on a couch.

Then Diaz and Cordova put Nichols on the floor and tied him up with shoelaces and strips of bedding, records show.

Later, after binding and gagging the second man, Cordova lifted Nichols up and Diaz stabbed him repeatedly, records say.

The second man was also stabbed, but pretended to be dead and then lost consciousness.

When he came early the next morning he was able to free himself.

He asked a neighbor to call police.

Officers found Nichols dead in the apartment and next to the body a beer bottle that later was found to have Diaz’s DNA on it, records show.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Diaz’s 11th-hour appeal late Thursday afternoon.

His attorneys argued that recent high court rulings should have allowed another look at previously unsuccessful appeals in which Texas inmates such as Diaz had shoddy legal assistance at their trials and early in the appeals process.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials for the first time used a different drug in the lethal cocktail with which Diaz was injected Thursday evening.

The drug, pentobarbital, was obtained from a vendor or manufacturer the prison agency has declined to identify.

The expiration date of the department's existing lethal drug inventory passed this month, possibly compromising its effectiveness, which prompted Texas prison officials to go to nontraditional sources for execution drugs.

The execution was the 13th of the year.

Four more executions are scheduled before year's end.