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San Antonio Man Sentenced To Die Requests Clemency

my_southborough via Creative Commons

A San Antonio man scheduled to be executed this month is asking the governor for clemency.

Juan Castillo, who is scheduled to be executed May 16, was convicted of capital murder for the death of San Antonio hip hop artist Tommy Garcia Jr. during a failed robbery attempt on the city’s west side in 2003. Castillo’s attorneys argue DNA evidence does not place their client at the scene of the murder.

Castillo was sentenced to death based on eyewitness testimony from two of the co-defendants in the case and testimony taken from a jailhouse informant, who has since recanted parts of his story.

Castillo’s attorney Greg Zlotnick said local and state courts denied his client’s request to retest DNA and physical evidence taken from the crime scene. Zlotnick said the case should be re-examined due to advancements in technology.

“The testing that was done in connection with the trial did not implicate Mr. Castillo. It was inconclusive. It did not place him at the scene,” he said. “And there was more evidence that could not be tested at that time. Now, obviously, since Mr. Castillo’s trial there has been advances in forensic pathology.”

Zlotnick said Castillo is asking for a reprieve or to have his sentence changed to a lesser penalty.

“And with that big of a question mark hanging out in the case, the potential for a wrongful execution — that’s a thought that no state official should take lightly. I don’t think that they do, but because of that, it makes clemency the right outcome in the case,” Zlotnick said.

During his 2014 run for governor, Gov. Greg Abbott told the San Antonio Express News editorial board that he would not allow any execution to proceed unless he was 100 percent certain that the correct person had been convicted.

Editor's note: Attorney Greg Zlotnick is a member of Texas Public Radio’s community advisory board.

Ryan Poppe can be reached atrpoppe@tpr.org or on Twitter@RyanPoppe1

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.