Ruben Ramirez Cardenas, 47, was executed by lethal injection on 9 November 2017 in Huntsville, Texas for the abduction, rape, and murder of his teenage cousin.
On Saturday, 22 February 1997 in Edinburg, Cardenas, then 27, snuck into the bedroom of Mayra Laguna, his 15-year-old cousin, through an open window. Cardenas duct-taped Mayra's mouth shut, tied her hands with duct tape, and put her in a car with co-defendant Tony Castillo. Cardenas drove to a remote location, raped the victim, beat her severely with his fists, and strangled her. He then dumped her body in a nearby canal.
Laguna's sister told police she woke up and saw someone take her sister out through their bedroom window against her will. Another witness alerted authorities after she saw a man walking a teenage girl wearing only a t-shirt and underwear through the parking lot.
Police questioned Cardenas about Mayra's disappearance. After Castillo implicated him, he gave a confession in which he admitted raping her and killing her, but he said she left the house with him voluntarily and the killing was unintentional. He led police to the girl's body.
A jury found Cardenas guilty of capital murder in February 1998. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence in April 2000. All of his subsequent appeals in state and federal court were denied.
Jose Castillo was convicted of aggravated kidnapping and sentenced to 25 years in prison. He remains in custody as of this writing.
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