By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer
Gilberto Reyes of Muleshoe is scheduled to die by lethal injection in Huntsville, Texas, tonight for raping, beating and strangling his former girlfriend more than nine years ago.
Reyes, 33, was convicted in 2000 of killing Yvette Barraz.
A last-minute appeal could come but at this point everything is progressing on schedule, said Tom Kelley, a spokesman for the Texas Attorney General’s office.
Reyes will be the first Bailey County resident put to death in at least 31 years, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice data.
Don Carter, now with the Lubbock County Sheriff’s office, said the homicide occurred fairly early in his time as Muleshoe police chief.
It was a shocking case that gripped the community at the time, he said.
“When you talk about estranged relationships and domestic violence incidents that cause you to be concerned, you wouldn’t have expected it of (Reyes),” he said.
“(The break-up) was very emotional for him and it was enough to make him commit the crime.”
Barraz, 19, and Reyes had a serious relationship but had broken up three months before her death, according to court records. Court records indicate she told police he was stalking her and she was afraid of him.
Jesse Reyes, 25, of Muleshoe described his brother’s relationship with Barraz as “on again, off again.”
“I know he loved her,” he said.
Although he has visited with his brother often, Jesse Reyes said his brother has never talked to him about the incident and he’s never asked.
“It’s been tough knowing we’re going to lose him,” Jesse Reyes said.
He said he doesn’t believe the death penalty is fair and his brother doesn’t deserve to die.
“Everybody makes mistakes,” he said. “We both lost in this. Nobody won.”
He said he planned to be with his brother this week as the execution drew closer. “I’m just trying to enjoy the time I have left with him.”
Efforts to locate Barraz’s family for comment were unsuccessful.
According to court records, Reyes abducted Barraz the night of March 11, 1998, from the parking lot of Leal’s restaurant in Muleshoe, where she worked as a waitress.
Days later, her body was discovered in her car around a half mile from the Mexican border in Presidio, Texas. Reyes fled to Mexico initially but returned to the United States and was captured in Portales a little more than three months later.
Employees at Leal’s who knew Barraz didn’t want to comment on the execution, according to a woman who answered the phone at the restaurant. “Nobody wants to say anything really, they want to stay out of it,” she said.
— CNJ managing editor Rick White contributed to this report