With the execution death of David Renteria on 11/16/2023, it seems that Texas is taking a break for the rest of the year. Who wants to execute someone during the holidays? That doesn't mean there isn't anyone scheduled to be next. Ivan Edgar Cantu is scheduled to die on February 28th, 2024, unless he manages to get a stay or clemency.

What did Ivan Cantu do to land a spot on death row? Let's take a look at his crime- which involves the slaying of his cousin. But did he even really commit the crime?

Getty Images/ TX Dept. of Correction
Getty Images/ TX Dept. of Correction

Ivan Cantu was convicted of the shooting deaths of his cousin James Mosqueda and his fiance Amy Kitchen. Cantu and his girlfriend, Amy Boettcher, lived in an apartment not far from Mosqueda. Cantu and his cousin were the same age at the time of the murders- 27. The theory was that Cantu shot and killed his family to rob them, including, callously, a particularly personal belonging of Kitchen's:

Cantu gave Boettcher a diamond engagement ring that had belonged to Kitchen.

I'll be honest, this seems far-fetched, or at least, that there is some vital information missing. Who kills their own cousin over a few measly items? I suppose this world is full of monsters, but it just feels...unlikely. And certainly not this simple.

The star witness in Cantu's trial was his own fiancée at the time, Amy Boettcher. She testified Cantu committed the crimes, stole several items from the victims' home — including a Rolex watch — and took her back to the crime scene later that night.

Was Cantu just a deranged drug addict? Or is he the victim of being framed?

Cantu has always maintained his innocence, claiming that Mosqueda was killed by a rival drug dealer. If this is true, a lot of "framing" was done- Mosqueda's car was found at Cantu's apartment, along with bloody jeans and socks, and the gun used to kill Mosqueda and Kitchen. 

However, Boettcher's testimony against Cantu has utterly fallen apart over the years. The Rolex she claimed Cantu stole was found in Mosqueda's apartment- a detail the prosecution failed to share with Cantu's defense. She also claimed Cantu came home from the murders with a swollen face, but people who attended a party they went to after the murders did not see the same thing. And the engagement ring? Others have come forward to say that Cantu and Boettcher announced their engagement a week before the murders- with a different ring. It seems likely that Boettcher perjured herself, either out of fear of retribution from the real killer, or just to ensure she avoided prosecution. Or she simply couldn't keep her story straight. 

Cantu's case has become the subject of a popular podcast- Cousins By Blood, which goes into great detail on the case, and certainly raises many questions. Some are calling for a stay or clemency for Cantu:

The petition outlined new developments that included a trial witness recanting his testimony and a pair of jurors in his trial coming forward to express concerns about the conviction.

This seemingly simple case is nothing but, and only time will tell if Cantu can avoid execution.

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