After 17 years, the leader of a vicious gang that raped, tortured and killed a 14 year old and a 16 year old girl in what has been described as a “feeding frenzy” has been put to death in Texas. Of 6 individuals convicted for the horrific crime, Peter Anthony Cantu is the last of the three who were executed for the crime to be put to death. Two perpetrators were spared the death penalty because they were under 18 at the time of their crimes.The one perpetrator, age 14 who dodged the death penalty got 40 years in prison.
Randy Ertman, father of Jennifer Ertman, the 14 year old murder victim was present at all 3 executions. He refused to listen to a letter of apology from Cantu. Associated Press reports as follows on the crime for which Cantu was executed.
On that June night, the girls were hoping to beat an 11:30 p.m. curfew by taking a shortcut home to Pena’s northwest Houston neighborhood. They were crossing a railroad bridge when the gang, drinking beer and initiating a new member, spotted them.
One of the gang members grabbed Pena. She screamed. Ertman tried to help.
In what police later would describe as a sadistic frenzy, the girls were gang-raped for more than an hour. They were forced to perform oral sex. They were kicked, teeth knocked out and hair pulled out and ribs broken. A red nylon belt, with an attacker tugging at each end, was pulled so tightly around Ertman’s neck the belt snapped. Shoelaces were used to strangle Pena.”
Evidence showed Cantu kicked one of the girls in the face with his steel-toed boot.
Cantu was dead after a few short minutes in the death chamber. He was already unconscious before his heart stopped. This stands in marked contrast to his victims, who endured hours of horror before being killed.
It was Cantu’s own brother, sickened by hearing the gang brag of their crimes who provided police with the break they by turning his brother and his brother’s cohorts in for their crimes.
Although it is good that Cantu is dead, it is a pity that it took so long to execute him.