Posted: Jul 11, 2013 9:35 PM
Updated: Jul 11, 2013 10:13 PM
LIVINGSTON, Texas - The state of Texas is scheduled to execute a man convicted of murdering four women in Donna.
A jury convicted Robert Garza of the 2002 murders. He agreed to talk to CHANNEL 5 NEWS.
Garza claims no purpose is served through his execution. He still tries to minimize his role in the killings.
"I wasn't there. I didn't kill nobody," he told us.
Prosecutors and the mother of one of his alleged victims disagree.
"Over 64 rounds and casings were fired into that vehicle," said prosecutor Joseph Orendain. "It was a horrible crime scene the way he killed them."
Laughing and relaxed, Garza doesn't come across like a monster or a villain.
"This is the path life took me and I just did it to the fullest," he told us.
According to prosecutors, Garza had a hand in two of the most notorious crimes in Rio Grande Valley history.
Garza was a member of the Tri-City Bombers and one of the alleged triggermen in the Edinburg massacre. Six men inside a home were shot to death in January 2003.
Rosita Gutierrez lost two sons in the attack. "All of us, we're never going to forget, because we'll never see our kids back," she said.
Garza downplays his involvement. "If you're a gang member and they believe the gang did it, you're just as guilty according to them or the law," he told us.
He claims he wasn't there that terrible day in Edinburg.
Prosecutors said it makes no difference. The Edinburg case is not why Garza is on death row.
A few months before the Edinburg massacre, members of the Tri-City Bombers ambushed four immigrant women in Donna. The victims were returning home from work at a nearby bar.
The hit was meant to prevent the women from testifying against one of the gang leaders. Prosecutors said the gang targeted the wrong women. Garza claims he wasn't at the scene that night.
"I had knowledge of it, you know, prior to it, so probably I'm at fault for not preventing it," he said.
Orendain said, "Even if the jury believed that he wasn't in fact the shooter, if they just believed that he went there, picked up the guys, helped organize it and take off, he's still guilty as a party and can be sentenced to death."
The prosecutor added, "He said he was following orders, he was following instructions and he was carrying them out because he was a member of the gang."
Justice is scheduled to come to Garza in the form of a lethal injection on September 19.
He told us, "Definitely, I feel remorse for the family, for the victim, for the victim's children, for my family, I mean for everybody. Not just for that case. But for my whole past. The people I've hurt in my past.
"Of course that's something that's in here you know and I carry it with me. And I acknowledge it everywhere I go that I've hurt people in my past.
"Apart from this incident here, this case, I lived a life of a thug. I was in the streets. I was a gang member, you know."
Garza said the worst part about his execution will be the impact on his wife and young son.
"I don't think the death penalty is the answer, because it only creates more victims," he told us. "Who's going to raise my son? Who's going to keep my son from going down the same path I went."
Pain and suffering the losing of those closest to you is something Gutierrez knows all too well. She still mourns the loss of her sons.
"I've struggled. I've struggled one way or another. I've been through a lot. It's hard. I still miss my kids. I miss them a lot," she said.
The death row inmate told us he was a product of his environment. He was in and out of the criminal justice system from a young age.
"There has to be a better way than just putting people in juvenile, putting juveniles, locking them up with a bunch of other thugs and expecting them to change. There has to be a better way. ... I lived the life that I knew how to live. It was just a cycle," he said.
Garza now spends 22 hours a day inside a solitary prison cell. After 10 years on death row, the convict claims he's grown up and is a changed man.
"I look back to who I was when I first got here. And I understand why people would look at me in the light that they did back then," he said. "But nobody's gotten to know me in the time from then to now. And I think I'm a totally different person today than I was back then."
He questions whether killing a supposedly changed man is the proper message the state should send to society.
Gutierrez knows that ultimate act will not return her sons to her. But, for her, it remains a message worth sending.
While Garza was not convicted in the death of Gutierrez's sons, she still wants to witness his execution. Prison officials said she may be allowed to witness it.