Ivan Cantu executed in Texas despite steadfast innocence claims

Huntsville, Texas - Texas on Wednesday executed Ivan Cantu, who steadfastly maintained his innocence after a 2001 double murder conviction.

Ivan Cantu was executed in Huntsville, Texas, on Wednesday evening after a double murder conviction he has steadfastly denied.
Ivan Cantu was executed in Huntsville, Texas, on Wednesday evening after a double murder conviction he has steadfastly denied.  © CHANTAL VALERY / AFP

"I’d like to address the Kitchens and Mosqueda families. I want you to know that I never killed James and Amy," Cantu said ahead of his lethal injection, according to CNN. "And if I did, if I knew who did, you would’ve been the first to know any information I would’ve had that would’ve helped to bring justice to James and Amy."

The 50-year-old had been convicted in the 2000 fatal shootings of his cousin, James Mosqueda, and Amy Kitchen, Mosqueda's fiancée.

Cantu long claimed a drug dealer in a money dispute with Mosqueda was responsible for the killings and that evidence had been planted at the scene of the crime to incriminate him.

Cantu’s then girlfriend, Amy Boettcher, who has since died, took the stand during the 2021 trial claiming that her boyfriend had committed the crimes and even taken her back to the scene afterward. Cantu's lawyers did not call witnesses during the trial.

But a private investigation led by Matt Duff, much of which is documented in his Cousins by Blood podcast, found that Boettcher's testimony contained several false statements, including that Cantu had stolen Mosqueda's Rolex watch and Kitchen's engagement ring.

New witness statements also uncovered that a man who had supplied Mosqueda with drugs had threatened to kill him just two days before the shootings, Cantu's legal representatives said.

Ivan Cantu's request for stay denied

Despite the new findings, two lower courts denied requests for a stay in the case. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed Cantu's petition without reviewing its merits. Then, the Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals deemed new evidence in the case "not credible."

Texas' Republican Governor Greg Abbott could have stepped in to grant a 30-day reprieve but chose not to do so.

In his quest for truth and justice, Cantu gained support from the likes of Kim Kardashian and Martin Sheen as well as his 2001 jury foreman Jeff Calhoun. A MoveOn petition calling to save Cantu gained more than 150,000 signatures.

Nevertheless, Texas proceeded with the execution, and Cantu was pronounced dead at 6:47 PM.


More on Justice: