Ivan Cantu executed in Texas: What was the evidence against him in controversial murder case?

Mugshot of Ivan Cantu
Ivan Cantu was executed for murder. Pic credit: Texas Dept. of Justice

Yesterday, the Texas Department of Justice executed Ivan Cantu by lethal injection at their facility in Huntsville.

Cantu had been on death row since 2001 and reportedly spent his last day fighting for a stay of execution. His case has proved somewhat controversial, following claims he might have been innocent.

However, Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis insisted last night that justice has been done and that Cantu was definitely guilty of killing his cousin James Mosqueda and his fiancee Amy Kitchen at Mosqueda’s home in northern Dallas.

On November 4, 2000, Amy’s mother asked the Dallas Fire Department to enter Mosqueda’s home when she became concerned for her daughter’s welfare.

The firefighters found the remains of 22-year-old Amy and 27-year-old James lying on the floor of the bedroom; they had been shot multiple times. There was no sign of forced entry into the house.

The following day, the cops found James’s Chevrolet Corvette outside Cantu’s apartment. The police searched Cantu’s home and found a set of keys to James’s residence and another key to Amy’s car.

Evidence mounted in case against Ivan Cantu for Amy Kitchen and James Mosqueda murders

Perhaps most damning for Cantu, the investigators also recovered a bloody pair of jeans and socks from the kitchen garbage can. The blood on the jeans matched to James, and the blood on the socks belonged to Amy.

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A couple of days later, the police took a .380 caliber semi-automatic pistol from Cantu’s ex-girlfriend’s home. The gun had Cantu’s fingerprints and matched to the bullets retrieved from Amy and James’s remains.

Finally, Cantu’s roommates testified against him. They claimed that Cantu had told them of his plan to kill his cousin so he could rob his drug money (James was allegedly a low-level drug dealer).

On the day before the bodies were discovered, Cantu’s roommate said Cantu came home and asked them to hide the bloody jeans and socks. He allegedly referred to the murders, saying, “It wasn’t pretty.”

The case later became controversial after accusations emerged that key witnesses had lied, and doubts about the forensic evidence were raised.

In recent months, Cantu’s case has been advocated by anti-death penalty activists who believe he didn’t get a fair trial. His case has even been championed by celebrities such as Martin Sheen, Kim Kardashian, and Susan Sarandon.

Collin County DA says Ivan Cantu was the true killer

However, District Attorney Greg Willis says the evidence against Cantu is overwhelming.

Willis insisted, “I just want people to know who are concerned, if there are people concerned, that this was overwhelming evidence of a guilty man.”

Cantu’s trial attorneys have also admitted that their client confessed to the murders before the trial, claiming James had ripped him off and that he killed Amy because he didn’t want any witnesses.

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