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I was unjustly convicted of murder in Harris County

Charles Mamou Texas DR
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Peter Cantu - Texas Death Row - Scheduled Execution
Scheduled Executions
Upcoming Executions
Start : Wednesday 18 August 2010, 2:00
End : Wednesday 18 August 2010, 2:00


Peter Cantu - Texas Death Row - Scheduled Execution for August 17, 2010

Victims:Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pena

The Crime: Peter Cantu was convicted in the abduction and murders of Jennifer Ertman, 14, and Elizabeth Pena, 16, in Houston. The girls were abducted by Cantu and four members of a street gang he led as they walked along railroad tracks, a short-cut home for them. Both were sexually assaulted by the gang members, beaten and strangled. Ertman was robbed of her rings, necklaces and cash. Later, Cantu and his accomplices were said to have joked about the brutal killings.
Sentenced to Death 3/94.

HUNTSVILLE The legal saga that began several days after the horrifying murder of two teenage Houston girls in 1993 came to an end Tuesday night with the execution of Peter Anthony Cantu, a former gang leader who all but ordered the execution of Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pena.

Cantu did not make a final statement. He was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m. The parents of Ertman and Pena, supported by other family members, looked on as he stared straight up toward the ceiling, taking one deep breath before he closed his eyes. Cantu did not acknowledge the victims' families. He had no personal witnesses attending the execution.

He was the 16th person to be executed by the state of Texas this year. Two other inmates have execution dates this year.

Cantu's execution was the third connected with the case. Two of the six assailants had their death sentences commuted to life in prison when the U.S. Supreme Court barred capital punishment for those who commit crimes under the age of 18. A 14-year-old attacker was given a 40-year sentence for his participation in the assaults.

Cantu was described as the leader of small gang known as the Black and Whites. On June 24, 1993, the group was conducting a fight-filled initiation ceremony for a prospective member across from T.C. Jester Park when Ertman, 14, and Pena, 16, crossed their paths while taking a shortcut home. The girls were hurrying along railroad tracks in the dark in order to get home by their curfew. They were spotted by the group, pulled off the tracks and taken into nearby woods where they were sexually assaulted. When the attackers were finished, the girls were taken deeper into the woods where, at Cantu's urging they were beaten, strangled and stomped to death.

The bodies were found six days later after Cantu's brother, using an alias, phoned police. Joe Cantu had watched the group divide the girls' small amount of cash and meager possessions and listened to them laugh and brag about the assaults. Police traced the 911 call to the Cantu home, and Joe quickly passed on what he knew.

The attackers confessed and at times seemed indifferent to the charges against them. Cantu showed little emotion at his conviction and death sentence and had no reaction when Randy Ertman, Jennifer's father, was allowed to make a victim impact statement at the end of the trial. When Cantu looked away, Ertman yelled at him, "Look at me look at me good!"

The murder of the two girls, both students at Waltrip High School, became one of the most notorious crimes in modern Houston history. The inexplicable act of random predation struck a chord among city residents as few other cases. Even more than a decade later, the mention of their last names could generate disgust and fear, with many people remembering the vivid and gruesome details of the girls' assault and death in the dark woods by White Oak Bayou.

The killings led to five death sentences, the most of any crime in modern American history. Cantu and Derrick O'Brien were tried before their fellow gang members. The trials of Efrain Perez, Raul Villarreal and Jose Medellin were held simultaneously, with common witnesses shuttling from one courtroom to the other. The 14-year-old, Venancio Medellin, was handled in juvenile court and given the maximum sentence, split between juvenile and adult prison facilities. He was not eligible for the death penalty because of his age, and he did not participate in the murders.

O'Brien was executed in 2006 and Medellin in 2008. Both expressed regret for their role in the killings. Perez and Villarreal will not be eligible for parole consideration for more than two decades.

Though some of the assailants had little previous brushes with the law, Cantu by the age of 18 had given plenty of indication he was headed for trouble. He had assaulted fellow students and a teacher, been kicked out of his regular school, and threatened security personnel at the alternative school to which he had been sent. He was on probation for assault in connection with an incident at the Astrodome parking lot in which he threatened another youth with a knife.

Last Meal:
6 chicken enchiladas. 12 crispy fried links . fajitas.
dirty or wild rice, 4 cinnamon rolls

Final Statement:

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