Arnold Prieto, who was convicted of a 1993 triple murder, was executed Wednesday evening in Texas, becoming the first person to be put to death by the state this year. He was pronounced dead at 6:31 p.m. CT.
"There are no endings, only beginnings. Love y'all, see you soon," Prieto's said before the lethal injection took effect.
The execution was also the first under the state's new governor, Greg Abbott, who was the former attorney general of Texas.
Prieto, 41, was sentenced to death for the murders of Virginia Rodriguez, 62, Rodolfo Rodriguez, 72, and Paula Moran, 90, after a drug-fueled robbery at their home in San Antonio.
Prieto was the only one of three men arrested in the case who received the death penalty. His two co-defendants, Jesse Hernandez and his brother, Guadalupe Hernandez, were the great-nephews of Virginia and Rodolfo Rodriguez. Jesse, who was 16 at the time of the murder, was sentenced to life. Charges against Guadalupe were dropped due to insufficient evidence.
The brothers introduced Prieto to cocaine and often mentioned their rich uncle, who they described as a loan shark with a closet full of money, according to court documents.
In September 1993, the three drove to the Rodriguez's house, snorting cocaine on the way. According to Prieto's confession, Guadalupe pressured him into going to the house to get his uncle's money.
The three men were let into the house by Virginia, who Prieto described as "very nice." After eating the breakfast she prepared for them, Prieto saw Guadalupe stab Virginia with a screwdriver. She was stabbed 31 times, The Austin Chronicle reported. Her husband, Rodolfo, who was in the bedroom with Jesse and Prieto, tried to help her, but Prieto stabbed him 17 times with a screwdriver. He also stabbed him through the back of the head.
The three robbed the house of jewelry and cash, during which Jesse stabbed the Rodriguez's 90-year-old family friend, Paula Moran, eight different times.
Prieto was found guilty of the three murders and sentenced to death in 1995.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review Prieto's case in 2009. He had previously argued that his attorneys were ineffective during the sentencing phase of his trial.
Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.