Texas executes 'Lovers' Lane' killer, convicted of 2003 murder

By Jon Herskovitz
FILE PHOTO: Texas deathrow inmate Juan Castillo is pictured in this police handout photo obtained by Reuters August 29, 2017. Texas Department of Criminal Justice/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas executed an inmate on Wednesday dubbed the "Lovers' Lane" killer who was convicted of a 2003 ambush in which he tried to rob a man in a parked car on a remote road in San Antonio and then fatally shot him.

Juan Castillo, 37, was put to death by lethal injection at the state's death chamber in Huntsville, a prisons official said.

It was the 11th execution this year in the United States and the sixth in Texas, which has executed more inmates than any other state since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976.

“To everyone that has been there for me you know who you are, love y’all. See y’all on the other side. That’s it," he was quoted as saying in his final statement by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Castillo had maintained his innocence, saying he was not at the scene.

He was convicted of killing aspiring rapper Tommy Garcia, then 19. Prosecutors said Garcia was set up by his then girlfriend, who lured him to the remote spot with the promise of sex and drugs but plotted to have him robbed by Castillo and two others.

After Garcia parked, Castillo, brandishing a pistol, smashed a car window, opened a door and demanded Garcia give him his money and jewelry. When Garcia refused and tried to run away, Castillo shot him seven times, prosecutors said.

Of the four people in the plot, only Castillo was sentenced to death and his lawyers have said there was no physical evidence that linked him to the crime.

They also said he was convicted because of tainted testimony that included a jailhouse informant who told a Texas court Castillo confessed to him that he was the triggerman.

The informant later recanted and said he lied to help himself, court documents showed.

Prosecutors said sources pointed law enforcement to the suspects and that Castillo's co-defendants told authorities he was the person who shot Garcia.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Peter Cooney)