Texas Man Convicted of Abducting and Killing 5-Year-Old Girl Executed
Huntsville, Texas – David Renteria, a Texas man convicted of abducting and strangling a 5-year-old girl, was executed on Thursday evening. Renteria, 53, was put to death by a chemical injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville for the murder of Alexandra Flores. He offered prayers, sang, and asked for forgiveness before the lethal drugs were administered.
In his final statement, Renteria expressed remorse for his actions, saying, “I’m sorry for all the wrongs I have done. And for those who have called for my death, who are about to murder me, I forgive you.”
Prosecutors revealed that Flores, the youngest of eight children, was taken from her family during a Christmas shopping trip to a Walmart store in El Paso on November 18, 2001. Renteria led her out of the store, strangled her, and then set her body on fire. The child’s remains were discovered the following day in an alley 16 miles away.
The execution proceeded after the U.S. Supreme Court denied two separate defense requests for a stay. One request was made to gain access to evidence that could have potentially proven Renteria’s innocence, while the other focused on claims that the execution drug pentobarbital had degraded, causing potential pain and violating the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.
Authorities provided evidence that Renteria, a convicted sex offender, acted alone in the abduction and killing. His lawyers did not raise this defense during his trial. Prosecutors pointed out that blood found in Renteria’s van matched the DNA of the murdered girl, and his palm print was discovered on a plastic bag placed over her head before her body was set on fire.
Surveillance footage displayed Renteria patrolling the store for approximately 40 minutes before leading the 5-year-old girl out. The grainy video showed her following him.
In a separate execution on the same day, Casey McWhorter was put to death in Alabama for fatally shooting a man during a robbery in 1993.
Renteria’s lawyers argued that his constitutional rights were violated when authorities denied them access to the prosecution’s file, which could have supported his claims of innocence. Renteria had long maintained that members of the Barrio Azteca gang forced him to take the girl under threat to his family, and it was the gang members who killed her.
These claims were based on witness statements released by El Paso police in 2018 and 2020, in which a woman implicated her ex-husband, a Barrio Azteca member, in the death of a girl who had disappeared from a Walmart. However, a federal judge in 2018 deemed the woman’s statement “fraught with inaccuracies” and insufficient to prove Renteria’s innocence.
In August, a state District Judge granted a stay of execution and ordered prosecutors to release their files in the case. However, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals later overturned this decision.
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted unanimously against commuting Renteria’s death sentence to a lesser penalty on Tuesday.
In 2006, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned Renteria’s initial death sentence, ruling that prosecutors had presented misleading evidence that portrayed him as lacking remorse. In a new resentencing trial in 2008, he was once again sentenced to death.
Renteria’s execution marked the eighth in Texas this year and the 23rd in the United States.
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