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Texas Executes Convicted Murderer

April 11, 2002

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) _ A man who killed his girlfriend and checked into a motel with her corpse was executed Wednesday after telling her family he was sorry.

``I hope and pray they can forgive me,″ Jose Santellan said of Yolanda Garza’s relatives. ``I loved Yolanda a lot.″

None of the relatives attended, but Santellan said he hoped they would read his words after his death by injection.

Santellan confronted Garza outside the Hill Country Memorial Hospital as she left her nurse’s aide job on Aug. 22, 1993. Santellan shot her four times and drove off with her body.

Police said he drove west for 80 miles, committing an armed robbery along the way, before stopping at Camp Wood. He checked into a motel and carried her body into the room.

Two days after the shooting, authorities got a tip that his car had been spotted at the motel. He was arrested and confessed, telling police he ``just wanted to get away and be with her and spend some time together.″

A psychiatric report concluded that Santellan was mentally ill and suffering depression, alcohol abuse, personality disorder and ``intermittent explosive disorder.″ But it said he was not mentally retarded and was competent to stand trial.

Santellan, 40, was the seventh person executed in Texas this year.

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