The ringleader of a notorious gang who masterminded the biggest prison escape in Texan history and killed a cop will be executed tomorrow.
George Rivas, 41, leader of ‘Texas Seven’, faces lethal injection for gunning down police officer Aubrey Hawkins on Christmas Eve 2010. The father-of-one, from Irving, was shot 11 times after interrupting the gang’s robbery of a sports store.
The gang stole $70,000 in cash, along with 44 firearms and ammunition, winter clothing, jewellery and wallets from employees who were in the process of closing up for the evening.
An autopsy later revealed that Hawkins, who was a police officer for more than eight years, had been run over by the fleeing gang in a stolen SUV driven by Rivas.
Rivas took full responsibility for the fatal shooting but said he never intended to kill the officer. He told a jury he deserved to die for the killing but prosecutors insisted he was trying to use reverse psychology to avoid the death sentence.
The murder took place just 11 days after Rivas and six other criminals escaped from a maximum-security south Texas prison. The fugitives overpowered 13 prison workers and three inmates and stole their clothing, broke into a prison armoury to get guns, and fled in a prison truck.
They committed several robberies, including two in Houston, before killing Hawkins
Rivas planned the escape while serving life sentences for 13 counts of aggravated kidnapping, four counts of aggravated robbery and a burglary count, at Connally Unit.
‘I wasn’t going to die an old man in prison,’ he said at his trial.
He testified that he handpicked some of his partners, gaining the trust of prison supervisors and then getting the inmates transferred to the prison maintenance area where he worked.
The fugitives were caught a month later in Colorado, where one of them, Larry Harper, 37, killed himself rather than surrender.
Rivas will be the second member of the gang to be executed by the state. Michael Rodriguez, 45, volunteered for lethal injection and was executed in August 2008, while Texas 7 member, Donald Newbury, was set to die earlier this month but U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia stopped his punishment at least temporarily. Patrick Murphy Jr., 50, Joseph Garcia, 40, and Randy Halprin, 34, are still appealing their death sentences.
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