Around 6 pm on Saturday November 4, 2000, the bodies of James Mosqueda and Amy Kitchens were found in their home, in Dallas, Texas. They had both been shot.
The next day, Sunday November 5, police discovered Mosqueda’s Corvette parked outside Ivan Cantu’s home, a mile away.
On Tuesday November 7, police searched Cantu’s apartment, and found jeans and socks with the victims’ blood on them folded neatly inside Cantu’s trashcan. In the bedroom closet they found keys to Amy Kitchens’ Mercedes and a box of .380 caliber bullets.
On November 4, Cantu left Texas, but he returned November 7, and stayed the night at the house of Tawny Svihovec, his former girlfriend. On Wednesday November 8, Cantu went to the police department to speak with lead detective Anthony Winn, and was arrested. In the evening, Svihovec informed police that she had found a gun, a box of bullets and drugs under a couch cushion, in her home. The victim’s blood was found on the gun.
Amy Boettcher, Cantu’s girlfriend testified that Cantu left their apartment on Friday Nov. 3 at 11:30 pm with intent to kill the victims, returned after 45 minutes, and that they subsequently visited the crime scene. She also testified Cantu gave her a ring to wear which she believed to have been taken from Kitchens.
At first sight, the evidence of guilt appears overwhelming, and during closing arguments, Cantu’s lawyers told the jury “I’m not telling you he’s innocent..”. Cantu was duly convicted and sentenced to death.
However, Cantu claims he was framed, and when further evidence is taken into account, this seems a logical conclusion.
Although this was not brought up at trial, Amy Kitchens’ body when discovered at 6:30pm on November 4 was not in a state of “rigor mortis”, this is inexplicable if she was killed more than 18 hours earlier, as Boettcher claimed. Cantu claimed to have seen Kitchens alive around 6:30am on November 4, and this medical evidence strongly supports Cantu’s claim.
Next, it’s puzzling that Cantu was so careless. Telling Boettcher his intention, confessing to her, leaving the victim’s car parked outside his home ( and he was a suspect right from the moment the bodies were discovered ), the incriminating evidence left in his house, and finally the gun found at Svihovec’s home. It all seems too easy for the police, it is not unreasonable to suspect a setup.
Boettcher testified that after visiting the scene, Cantu drove back in Mosqueda’s Corvette, while she drove Cantu’s Honda. This doesn’t make sense.
Boettcher also testified that on the evening of Thursday Nov. 2, after three wonderful months together, Cantu suddenly became angry as they sat in their living room, and fired a gun near her head, the bullet went through the wall. Again, this doesn’t make much sense.
Then there are other inconsistencies in Boettcher’s account – she testified that the victim hit Cantu with a baseball bat, and his face was damaged, but nobody saw this when they went out partying later. Boettcher also said she was still terrified even after Cantu was arrested, inexplicable if he acted alone.
In summary, it seems quite plausible Boettcher decided planted evidence against Cantu was so compelling that it was best to testify as police suggested, to ensure she was not charged as an accomplice.
There are other unanswered questions : how Cantu could have been in possession of the gun (the registered owner of the gun did not testify), and were his fingerprints actually on the gun, as the prosecution claim.
This is only a short summary of some points about the case, for a detailed series of articles see here.
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