When sinners repent, we are informed by the highest authority, the angels in heaven rejoice.
Michael Anthony Rodriguez paid a hit man to kill his wife because he was infatuated with a young woman. He was imprisoned in Texas, and with the Texas Seven escaped on Christmas Eve 2000. They killed a young police officer who had interrupted his holiday dinner to answer a call.
At his trial, Rodriguez claimed he had been abused in a Catholic high school in San Antonio by the Rev. Eugene Fitzsimmons and that the abuse and the consequent homosexuality led Rodriguez to bizarre behavior. Fitzsimmons was subpoenaed, but took the Fifth Amendment, even though Rodriguez later said the allegation of abuse and homosexuality was all a lie, an attempt to escape execution.
Rodriguez was sentenced to death. He wrote to the policeman’s widow.
In a 2006 letter, Mr. Rodriguez told her he realized he owed her a debt he could never repay.
“Yet I can indeed offer a form of retribution to at least give you a sense of justice,” he wrote.
A federal judge approved his request to end his appeals Sept. 27, two days after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to consider a claim by Kentucky inmates that lethal injection there is inhumane. That case stalled executions around the nation until April, when the high court cleared the way for them to resume.
Mr. Rodriguez had asked that there be no further appeals in his case, telling a judge that he hoped accepting his fate might help him enter heaven.
His time to depart came on August 14, 2008, at 6:30 PM, as the Catholic Church began celebrating the feast of the Assumption of Mary into heaven.
Immediately before his execution, Mr. Rodriguez apologized profusely to those affected by his crimes.
“My punishment is nothing compared to the pain and suffering I’ve brought you,” he said. “I’m not strong enough to ask for forgiveness. I ask the Lord to forgive. I’ve done horrible things that brought sorrow and pain to these wonderful people,” he said.
“I’m sorry, so sorry,” he said.
As the drugs took effect, Mr. Rodriguez was praying in a whisper. “I’m ready to go, Lord,” he said.