April 13, 2020
Prosecutors said Monday that a man who has been on death row for almost 20 years cannot be executed because he is intellectually disabled.
“These crimes were unimaginable tragedies for the families of the victims who were slain,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said. “In the past two decades, the science has changed and the law surrounding that science has changed. Justice mandates that we follow the law as it is now.”
Gilmar Guevara, 50, was convicted of fatally shooting two store clerks during an unsuccessful robbery attempt in 2000.
His attorneys have argued for years that he had ineffective assistance of counsel at his 2001 trial and that he is intellectually disabled.
An agreement reached during a court hearing Monday means Guevara’s case will be forwarded to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals with the recommendation that he be taken off death row and sentenced to life in prison.
Guevara confessed to shooting Tae Youk, 48, of South Korea and Gerardo Yaxon, 21, of Guatemala at the Town Market in southwest Houston.
He also confessed to the killing of 22-year-old apartment security guard Freddy Marroquin, though he was not tried for that slaying.
In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court made it illegal to execute intellectually disabled defendants. Since then, courts have struggled to define how to determine intellectual disability. In 2019, Texas adopted standards that establish that Guevara is ineligible to be executed because he is intellectually disabled.
Monday’s agreement was handled by Joshua Reiss, chief of the Post-Conviction Writs Division, and prosecutor Shawna Reagin.