Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Monday, Aug. 12, 2002

MEDIA ADVISORY

Javier Suarez Medina Scheduled to be Executed

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Javier Suarez Medina, who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2002.

On June 5, 1989, Javier Suarez Medina was sentenced to die for the capital murder of undercover police officer Lawrence Rudy Cadena during the course of committing or attempting to commit robbery in Dallas, Texas, on Dec.13, 1988. A summary of the evidence presented at trial follows.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

On Dec. 13, 1988, undercover narcotics officers from the Dallas Police Department planned an assignment known as a "buy bust," where officers arrange to buy a large quantity of drugs. Through his undercover work, Dallas Police Officer Lawrence Rudy Cadena had previously bought drugs from a suspect known as "Tony" (a/k/a Hector Rodriguez). On the night in question, Cadena arranged to meet Tony at a Stop-n-Go convenience store to purchase four ounces of cocaine from him.

When Cadena arrived at the Stop-n-Go, he met with two men, later identified by police as Fernando Fernandez and Jimmy Sanders, who were to negotiate the drug deal. Moments later, Tony arrived at the scene in a red Chevrolet Citation, and Cadena and Fernandez got into the car. The three discussed the planned transaction; Tony and Fernandez demanded to see the money and Cadena refused to show them the money until he saw the drugs. Tony gave Cadena a sample of cocaine and encouraged him to try it, but Cadena refused stating he was in a hurry. Cadena then went back to his undercover car, and Tony and Fernandez left the scene, ostensibly to get the cocaine. Meanwhile, a black pickup truck had pulled into the parking lot and parked near Tony's vehicle, and the occupants had apparently watched the transaction. Sanders had a short conversation with the people in the pickup. The pickup then drove slowly past Cadena and left the scene.

Approximately 15 minutes later, Tony and Fernandez returned to the scene and Fernandez told Cadena, "the guy in the pickup will have what you want." The pickup arrived at the scene and Medina exited wearing a brown leather trench coat. Medina approached Cadena's vehicle and frantically tried to open the passenger door, which was locked, while Fernandez positioned himself about eight feet from the driver side of the vehicle. After unlocking the door, Cadena told Medina he would get the money after Cadena got the dope. Medina threw a bag of white powder into the car, and then raised a semiautomatic Uzi machine gun and shot eight times at Cadena. Medina slammed the passenger door shut, ran to the driver's side of Cadena's car, opened it and raised his weapon to shoot Cadena again.

A Dallas police officer who had been observing the drug transaction from his undercover vehicle approached the scene, fired four shots at Medina, wounded him, and prevented him from firing further at Cadena. Fernandez then jumped over the fallen Medina and into Cadena's car. The police officer testified that when he arrived at Cadena's car, he found Fernandez ripping at Cadena's shirt and pants, presumably looking for the drug money. Another Dallas detective fired one shot at Fernandez and wounded him.

The Dallas officer who shot Medina testified at trial that immediately thereafter, he heard shots from behind him, which he believed came from the direction of the red Citation. The officer fired two shots through the car's windshield fatally wounding Tony, who was attempting to drive away from the scene. In the meantime, the black pickup truck raced off but was later found at an apartment complex less than one mile from the Stop-n-Go. Police discovered the pickup had been stolen from a parking lot at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.

Medina was taken to Parkland Hospital for treatment of his two gunshot wounds. While at the hospital, Medina gave a tape-recorded confession that was played before the jury at trial. In his confession, Medina states that he was asked to deliver a bag of cocaine that cost $4,000, and he agreed to do it. Medina was given an overcoat and an Uzi "in case anything happened." Medina also stated that Tony told him that after the cocaine was delivered and Medina had received the money, he and Tony would follow the buyer until he made a stop, and Tony would shoot him and take back the cocaine. Medina's response to this plan was "alright." Medina then described what happened at the Stop-n-Go after he delivered the cocaine to Cadena. Medina explained that he asked for the money, and as Cadena reached down for it, he heard two gunshots. Medina looked up to check the roof, then looked down, closed his eyes and began to fire. He states in his confession that he only fired two or three times, but evidence indicated Medina fired eight times at Cadena. According to the confession, Medina dropped the Uzi and "walked" to the other side of the car. Fernandez ran to the vehicle, opened the driver's door, and told Medina to grab the money and the cocaine. Medina asserts that he "froze" when he saw "the man with blood." Medina admitted Cadena did not shoot at him and that he did not even have a gun in his hand.

The substance which Medina tossed into Cadena's vehicle was discovered scattered about the inside of the car, but a small portion was found in the bag and on the ground by the driver's side door; however, a forensic chemist for the State testified that neither sample contained a controlled substance. The chemist also analyzed the sample of cocaine which Tony had given to Cadena at the scene. Laboratory analysis showed the weight of the white powder was 100 milligrams, 87 percent of which was pure cocaine.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Dec. 22, 1988 - Medina was charged by an indictment returned in Dallas County, Texas, with the capital offense of intentionally murdering Lawrence Rudy Cadena during the commission or attempted commission of a robbery.

May 24, 1989 - A jury found Medina guilty of capital murder.

June 5, 1989 - Following a separate punishment hearing, the court sentenced Medina to death.

May 5, 1993 - The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Medina's conviction and sentence, and later denied rehearing in October 1993. Medina did not seek certiorari review from the United States Supreme Court.

June 13, 1995 - Medina filed an original application for a state writ of habeas corpus raising 20 claims with the state trial court of conviction. He later filed a first amended writ (raising three claims) on July 1, 1996, a supplement to his amended writ (raising three claims) on Dec. 30, 1996, and a second amended writ (raising three new claims, bringing the total to 29 claims) on June 10, 1997.

July 15, 1997 & Sept. 29, 1997 - An evidentiary hearing was held on the writ petition by the trial court

May 26, 1998 - The trial court entered 238 findings of fact and conclusions of law recommending the denial of state habeas relief.

Sept. 16, 1998 - The Court of Criminal Appeals denied relief based on the trial court's findings and conclusions, and on the court's own review.

Sept. 15, 1999 - Medina petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division; he also filed an amended petition on Jan. 3, 2000 (raising a total of 21 claims).

April 6, 2001 - An oral argument was conducted before U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater.

May 15, 2001 - The district court denied relief.

May 25, 2001 - The district court denied reconsideration.

June 14, 2001 - The district court denied a certificate of appealability ("COA").

Sept. 27, 2001 - Medina filed his request for COA asking the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to grant review of three issues.

Jan. 16, 2002 - The Fifth Circuit issued an unpublished opinion affirming the denial of habeas relief and denying Medina's request for COA.

Feb. 26, 2002 - The Fifth Circuit denied Medina's petition for rehearing.

March 20, 2002 - The Criminal District Court No. 2 of Dallas County, Texas, scheduled Medina's execution for Aug. 14, 2001.

May 2, 2002 - Medina petitioned the United States Supreme Court for certiorari review.

June 28, 2002 - The Supreme Court denied certiorari review.

July 22, 2002 - Medina petitioned for clemency with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Aug. 7, 2002 - Medina filed a successive state habeas petition in the Dallas County trial court.

** Medina's petition for clemency is currently pending with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. In addition, his successive state writ is still pending.

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

No evidence of prior criminal convictions was presented to the jury at the punishment phase of trial. However, the State presented evidence regarding Medina's arrest in 1985 for trespassing at an elementary school, and his arrest in 1988 for stealing an automobile. The State also presented testimony that in October 1987, Medina was involved in an unadjudicated extraneous offense -- an aggravated robbery during which two people were shot.

The defense countered the evidence with business records showing that Medina was working at a fast food restaurant at the time of the 1987 aggravated robbery. In addition, Medina presented testimony from 15 witnesses that he had a good reputation for being peaceful and law-abiding. Medina also testified on his behalf, stating that he was threatened into becoming involved in the robbery and murder of Officer Cadena, and then tried to down play his other prior bad acts. Finally, Medina presented clinical psychologist Dr. Robert Powitzky who testified that Medina had a dependent personality disorder, which is characterized by a need for a lot of attention and affection and a tendency "to bend over backwards to [one's] own detriment" to get that attention and affection, and he felt that Medina would not commit criminal acts of violence which would constitute a continuing threat to society.

MISCELLANEOUS

For additional information and statistics, please log on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website, www.tdcj.state.tx.us.

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