On Monday April 20th, Richard Vasquez recieved a stay of execution. The reasons for this stay are not yet known.
On the 23rd of April, 2015 at 6pm CDT, the State of Texas is scheduled to execute Richard Vasquez.
Vasquez, now 35-years old, has been on death row since he was convicted of the 1998 murder of his four-year-old step-daughter, Miranda Lopez. Vasquez was originally scheduled to be executed on January 15th, 2015, however this execution was delayed for reasons that remain unspecified.
Richard Vasquez was born in Nueces County, Texas to an alcoholic mother and a drug addict father who spent much of his time in and out of prison. Thanks to his mother's heavy drinking habits, Vasquez was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome . He was brought up mainly by his aunt and uncle, although Vasquez had regular contact with his father. Rather than shooting hoops or tossing ball, his father taught him how to buy and sell drugs. He also showed him how to steal things in order to pay for those drugs. Richard Vasquez was addicted to heroin at 12-years old and he dropped out of school completely in ninth grade. Although Vasquez had a couple of minor, non-violent misdemeanours on his record as a juvenile, he had no convictions as an adult.
On March 4th 1998, Richard Vasquez and his girlfriend, Brenda Lopez had a argument, despite this they decided to inject themselves with heroin before going to bed. They were to inject heroin again as soon as they both woke up the next morning. Vasquez then drove Lopez to work, something he admitted in court he was not overly happy about because he was being left to watch the children, Miranda and the 3-month old baby they had together, Meagan. That afternoon, Vasquez contacted Lopez at work demanding to know where she had put the rest of their drugs. Still angry with Vasquez she refused to tell him and put down the phone. Overcome by rage, Vasquez struck four-year-old Miranda four times to the front of her head with his closed fist. Little Miranda Lopez died later that day from severe brain injuries. When questioned by police, Vasquez denied striking the child instead insisting her injuries were the result of a fall from a stool while cleaning her teeth.
The autopsy results did not support Vasquez's version of events. The autopsy also revealed Miranda Lopez had more than twice the lethal amount of cocaine in her system. There was also evidence of possible sexual abuse although the coroner was unable to determine if the young victim had suffered this around the time of death or if the abuse was ongoing. Vasquez was arrested and charged with capital one murder. On June 26th, 1999, Richard Vasquez was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.
As well as maintaining his innocence, Richard Vasquez has had several appeals stating his counsel during trial was ineffective. Federal judges tossed out claims that counsel for Vasquez demonstrated 'deficient performance' that prejudiced his case. His claims that due to this poor performance his conviction was unconstitutional were also dismissed. Supporters of Vasquez are adamant he did not receive a fair trial, in particular because important evidence disputing abuse claims were not used by his counsel. Richard Vasquez also states that little Miranda Lopez had no cocaine in her system, a fact he can prove if he is granted a new trial. His appeal lawyers continue to argue for a retrial, believing important mitigating evidence regarding Vasquez's upbringing and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome diagnosis was not used during his trial.
Vasquez has written several 'letters' that have appeared in several places on the Internet, in which he tells of how much he loves and misses his step-daughter. He also claims that his conviction came about because the victim was a child and therefore people needed to find him guilty out of justification. At the time of publication, Richard Vasquez is still set to be executed.
|Richard Vasquez maintains his innocence.|