A Texas man already being sought for a neighbor's slaying when he killed a Dallas police officer outside a club in 2001 was executed Wednesday. Licho Escamilla, 33, was given a lethal injection for the death of Christopher James, who was trying to break up a brawl involving Escamilla. He became the 24th convicted killer put to death this year in the United States. Texas has accounted for 12 of the executions. The US Supreme Court refused to review his case last week and no additional appeals were filed as his execution neared. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles on Monday decided against a reprieve and clemency.
James and three other uniformed officers were working off-duty when the brawl started. Escamilla pulled out a gun and opened fire on the officers as they tried to end the fight. The bullets struck James twice, knocking him to the ground. Escamilla then calmly walked up to the officer and fired three more shots into the back of his head before running and exchanging shots with other officers, witnesses said. A wounded Escamilla was arrested as he tried to carjack a truck. Escamilla was 19 at the time of the officer's killing and a warrant had been issued for him in the shooting death of a West Dallas neighbor nearly three weeks earlier. At his trial, Escamilla grabbed a water pitcher off the defense table and threw it at the jury as the judge was reading his sentence. (Read more death penalty stories.)