"I am sorry that the child had to lose her life, but I should not have to be here," Salazar said Wednesday night before he was executed for the beating death of Adriana Gomez in April 1997.
Salazar claimed Adriana was accidentally injured after he pushed her when she wouldn't stop crying while he was baby-sitting her. But authorities said Salazar, in a violent rage, inflicted injuries described as being worse than those suffered by auto accident victims.
"To everybody on both sides of that wall, I want you to know that I love you both," Salazar said in his last statement, acknowledging his family and Adriana's mother and other relatives who were there as witnesses. He looked toward his family during his remarks.
"Tell my family I love them all and I will see them in heaven. Come home when you can."
Salazar was pronounced dead at 6:20 p.m., seven minutes after the lethal dose began to flow.
Salazar, 27, of Lubbock, was the sixth prisoner put to death this year in Texas and the second of four scheduled this month in the nation's busiest capital punishment state.
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles on Monday rejected requests to commute Salazar's sentence to life or halt the execution. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals turned down requests by Salazar's attorney, Michael Charlton, to stop the execution based on claims the inmate is mentally retarded. There were no appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Authorities said Salazar delivered at least three life-threatening injuries to the girl: a blow to the head that left it feeling like gelatin, a blow to her chest that left her heart on the verge of rupturing and a blow to her abdomen that pushed internal organs against her backbone.
"This is one of those few cases that came down the pike that justice would not be satisfied unless he paid an ultimate price for this," said Rusty Ladd, who helped prosecute the case for the Lubbock County District Attorney's Office.
Salazar began dating Adriana's mother, Raylene Blakeburn, in 1996. He took care of the toddler while her mother worked. Blakeburn told authorities Salazar had abused her daughter several other times.
After beating her, Salazar left Adriana in the crib at her Lubbock home and went to his mother's house to drink beer with a friend. Adriana died a few hours at a hospital after being discovered by her mother when she got home from work.
Salazar, 18 at the time of his crime, refused a request from The Associated Press for an interview in the weeks before his scheduled execution.
Philip Wischkaemper, Salazar's defense attorney during his 1999 trial, said the inmate's mental retardation was behind his lack of remorse.
Prosecutors contended Salazar was not mentally retarded. The mental retardation issue was not brought up during Salazar's trial.
In 2002, the Supreme Court barred executions of the mentally retarded, on grounds they violated the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Wischkaemper said Salazar was condemned partly because jurors at his trial were misinformed by someone on the panel that he could have been released on parole in 20 to 25 years instead of the actual 40 if sentenced to life in prison.
Ladd, now a judge in Lubbock, said jurors were swayed by the brutal nature of the crime.
Two executions are scheduled for next week.
Raymond Martinez, condemned for the 1983 shooting death of a Houston bar owner during a robbery, is set to be executed Tuesday. Kevin Kincy, condemned for the 1993 murder of a Houston area man during a scheme to rob his home, is set to be executed on Wednesday.
This sick fuck actually thought he was going to heaven? ROTFLMAO!!
Baby killers don't go to heaven, dickhead!