Published on Saturday, May 27, 2000 by the Associated Press
Going Backwards:
First US Federal Execution Since 1963 Set For August 5th
by Michael Graczyk
HOUSTON –– A federal judge Friday set an Aug. 5 execution date for convicted killer Juan Raul Garza, who would become the first federal prisoner put to death in almost four decades.

U.S. District Judge Filemon Vela's order calls for Garza to be executed by injection at 6 a.m. at the federal death chamber in Terre Haute, Ind.

Garza is among 20 inmates awaiting execution. Because of pending appeals, no other inmate has an execution date.

The Bureau of Prisons and Justice Department officials were reviewing a draft of a detailed technical manual governing the manner of conducting the execution, said U.S. Attorney Mervyn Mossbacker Jr., who filed the motion seeking an execution date.

"The government seeks to ensure that this first execution, and those that follow, will be carried out in an appropriate, dignified and expeditious manner," Mossbacker said.

The last federal execution was in 1963. The Supreme Court ruled in 1972 that the death penalty was unfairly applied. State and federal procedures were revised and the high court restored the death penalty on the federal level in 1988, more than a decade after states resumed the punishment.

Among Garza's death row colleagues is Timothy McVeigh, convicted of the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people and injured hundreds of others five years ago.

Garza, 43, was convicted in Brownsville, Texas, in August 1993 for killing three men between April 1990 and January 1991. A 10-count indictment named him as the boss of a drug ring that imported tons of marijuana into the United States between 1983 and 1993. Prosecutors sought the death penalty under a 1988 "kingpin" law.

"I didn't kill any of these people," he told The Associated Press in a 1994 interview. "I'm not responsible. ... I got the shaft."

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