'Texas 7' gang leader put to death

George Rivas' final words: 'I do apologize for everything that happened'

HUNTSVILLE, Texas – The leader of the infamous "Texas 7" fugitive gang, George Rivas, was put to death Wednesday night for the Christmas Eve 2000 slaying of Irving Police Officer Aubrey Hawkins.

Rivas was also man responsible for later orchestrating the largest prison break in the state's history.

Jason Clark with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said with no petitions or hold-ups in the courts, the execution went as scheduled.

Rivas was pronounced dead at 6:22 p.m.

"First of all, for the Aubrey Hawkins family, I do apologize for everything that happened, not because I'm here but for closure in your hearts," Clark said of Rivas' last words. "I really believe that you deserve that."

Witnesses say Rivas kept mouthing "I love you" to his wife and spoke firmly, without any anxiety or animosity. His spiritual adviser had his hand on Rivas' leg, witnesses say.

Clark said the family indicated they did not want to watch the execution, but prosecutor Toby Shook spoke on behalf of them.

Shook said this day is not about George Rivas.

"Today is about justice for Aubrey Hawkins," Shook said. "Today is about justice for Aubrey Hawkins' family and Aubrey's fellow police officers and justice was served today."

A spiritual adviser, a friend, and Rivas' wife watched the execution on one side, while officers who knew Hawkins looked on as well.

Former Irving Police Chief Lowell Cannaday said he will never forget Christmas Eve 2000.

Family and friends just had finished eating dinner, he said, when he went to help with dishes.

Cannaday said when the call came about the shooting, a blur of events followed.

He said he had to tell a wife she lost her husband while starting an investigation from scratch to find out who killed Hawkins.

Those years have passed with a man now brought to justice, he said.

"These kinds of situations, you never really have closure because this is a family member," Cannaday said. "And a family member's been killed in a very brutal sort of way. There is a certain sense of satisfaction that the criminal justice system does work."

But for the family, Shook said the case is far from over as other defendants in the case take their turn in the justice system.

Recommended Videos