Execution Watch: Pablo Lucio Vasquez, Texas

submitted by Mark R. Execution Watch Editor

On April 6 we will have our second execution in a little over two weeks, and our fourth of the year, that of Pablo Vasquez.

In the Rio Grande Valley town of Donna, Texas (home of the Donna Redskins, the only Valley high school ever to win a state football championship, Class 2A in 1961) Vasquez and his then 15-year-old cousin, Andy Chapa, met 12-year-old Daniel Cardenas at a party.  They invited Cardenas to join them afterwards, then
killed him by blunt force trauma to the head (pipe and shovel) and buried his body.  Vasquez took a ring and necklace from Cardenas’ body.

From the above information (taken mostly from TDCJ’s website) this would appear to be little more a nondescript robbery-murder.  But as Paul Harvey would say, there is “the rest of the story.”  For Vasquez’ motive in killing Cardenas wasn’t robbery—it was his desire to drink Cardenas’ blood as part of an occult ritual ceremony.  (In addition to the blood, Cardenas’ body was found missing one arm and part of the other, as well as no skin on his back.)

Vasquez was found guilty and given the death penalty.  (Chapa, being under 18, was too young to be given the death penalty for his part in Cardenas’ murder.)  Along the way, a few minor issues were remanded to lower courts, but ultimately all appeals were DENIED and there do not appear to be any further appeals pending in this case.

Pablo Vasquez wanted to engage in occult practices.  Sometime after 6PM Huntsville time he may very well meet the Devil—and then it will be too late to engage in anything else.

Execution Watch: John David Battaglia, Texas

by Mark R: Execution Watch Editor

(The definitions below are taken from dictionary.reference.com)

Faith: a noun meaning (among others, the most common involving a belief in a deity or a religious teaching) “confidence or trust in a person or thing”.

Liberty: a noun meaning (among others, the most common involving a government) “freedom from captivity, confinement, or physical restraint”.

faith-battagliaFaith and Liberty were also the names of two young girls (ages 9 and 6, respectively), taken from this world way too soon, thanks to Huntsville’s March 30th guest of (dis)honor, John David Battaglia.

Family members have killed other family members since Cain murdered Abel.  And children have been the center of parental disputes since parents have had disputes.  Sometimes, tragically, the two meet.

liberty-battagliaBut you will be hard-pressed to find a more cold-hearted family murder than that of the Battaglia children.

Battaglia had Faith and Liberty for a scheduled custody visit.  But on May 2, 2001, Battaglia would place a call to his ex-wife (the girls’ mother).  Battaglia would then proceed to destroy Faith’s faith and restrain Liberty’s liberty by murdering the girls while their mother overheard the murders on the phone.

In Texas, killing children (especially your own) will usually get you a death sentence, and less than one year later (April 2002) that would be the punishment handed down by the jury.

All of Battaglia’s appeals have been DENIED.  However, he has persistently claimed that he was suffering from bipolar disorder, and shouldn’t be executed for what he did (he also claims that he can’t remember a thing about what happened).  I have a close friend with bipolar who had issues with her ex-spouse over their daughter—but she NEVER considered killing her in revenge.

In addition to the tragic story, the bipolar angle, and that it was one of the more notorious murders to come out of Dallas, I’ve followed this case for another reason:  while prisons tend to be overpopulated with school dropouts and menial laborers, Battaglia had enough education to obtain a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license from the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy.  As a Texas CPA licensee myself, Battaglia is a stain on our honorable profession.  The wheels of justice may move slowly but the TSBPA doesn’t—roughly one year after his conviction his CPA license was REVOKED.

https://www.tsbpa.state.tx.us/php/fpl/indlookup.php?x=5Rp8bo1dZ%2BE%3D

Sometime after 6PM Huntsville time, Wednesday evening, Battaglia will pay for his crimes.  AND—he won’t be able to have his CPA license reinstated.

Photo credit http://www.cncpunishment.com

 

Execution Watch: Adam Kelly Ward, Texas

by Mark R. Execution Watch Editor

March 22 brings us our second execution of the month, this time that of Adam Ward (no, not either of the actors in the old Batman series; that was Adam West and Burt Ward).  Commerce isn’t the place you would expect a capital murder to occur; usually the police only have to deal with out of control frat parties at Texas A&M—Commerce. Unfortunately, underneath the general calmness of daily life in a college town, the simmering of a pot about to blow was taking place.

The City of Commerce and the Ward family (Adam and his father Ralph) had been in a long-standing dispute over numerous code violations on the Ward property. The Wards claimed that the City was engaged in a conspiracy against them; the City countered that the property resembled something you would see on the TV series Hoarders.

pee wee walkerBut the feud between the parties would turn tragic shortly after 10 AM local time on June 13, 2005, when Code Enforcement Officer Michael “Pee Wee” Walker would go to the Ward property to take pictures of still more code violations. Walker would be met with multiple rounds of gunfire from Adam (before Ralph managed to get the gun away from Adam). In another tragic twist, the first responder at the scene was none other than Walker’s father Dick, who would watch his son die in his arms.

As Walker was a member of the Commerce Police Department, Ward would be charged with capital murder (murder of a peace officer and known to be such by the defendant). In Texas, that’s usually the fastest way to get a death sentence, and in June 2007 that would be the punishment handed down by the jury.

Ralph Ward would later enter into a settlement with Walker’s family, agreeing (without admitting fault) to pay the children $26,000 each plus the costs of Walker’s funeral and attorney’s fees. The City would later provide police protection to any city employee (even meter readers) going to the Ward property. (Walker’s father would later sue the City, on behalf of himself and the children, claiming that the City knew of the dangers but did nothing to protect Walker; I have no information on the outcome of that suit.)

All of Ward’s appeals have been DENIED; however, numerous appeals have been filed claiming he is mentally ill (bi-polar disorder) and therefore should not be executed. I know someone with bi-polar and she absolutely rejects any and all conspiracy theories. There are many sad stories in this case. Ralph Ward’s conspiracy-fueled rants led to him having to pay thousands of dollars to Officer Walker’s family—and he will have to see his son die before him. Dick Walker (who has managed to forgive Adam) had to see his own son die in his arms. Officer Walker’s children have grown up without their father. The City had to spend more taxpayer money to provide police protection for city employees who had to visit the Ward property—police who could have been working to prevent or solve other crimes.

And Adam Ward—only 22 when he fired the fatal shots—will die at 33, way before his time. But he could have chosen to reject the rantings of an unstable parent—he didn’t, though, and sometime after 6PM Huntsville time he will have to pay for his failure to choose wisely.

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