High court denies final appeal, clearing way for Lopez execution

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- The US Supreme Court has denied a request to stay the execution of Samuel Lopez, clearing the way for him to be executed on Wednesday.

Lopez was convicted for the 1986 brutal rape and murder of 59-year-old Estefana "Essie" Holmes.

His attorneys had asked the US Supreme Court to consider arguments that Lopez's original trial attorneys were incompetent and did not introduce evidence about his troubled upbringing.

Holmes' family members will be present for the execution, including her brother Victor Arguijo and nephew, who are flying in from Texas to be witnesses.

Arguijo wrote to the trial judge in 1987 asking for him to impose the death sentence.

"We just all felt justice had to be done, and we feel the same way today, that justice must prevail," Arguijo said.

He and his nephew flew to Arizona last month when Lopez was initially set to be executed, but that execution was stayed by a court because of issues concerning the State Executive Board of Clemency.

Arguijo hopes the execution will bring some closure to Holmes' large family, but says he and his siblings will never fully move on.


"Yes I'm sure there's closure for a lot of people, but the memories linger," he said. "Now we can probably say, then this wrongdoer will do no wrong anymore, once this is over and my sister's soul will hopefully be able to rest in peace."

Lopez will be the fourth inmate executed in Arizona this year.

It will be the first execution in Arizona where witnesses are able to see the executioners insert a catheter for the lethal drug Pentobarbital. The witnesses will be allowed to view that process on closed-circuit television.