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Texas 7 leader sentenced to die


DALLAS, Texas (CNN) -- A Texas jury Wednesday sentenced convicted killer George Rivas to death for the Christmas Eve shooting of a police officer following a prison escape organized by Rivas with six other inmates.

The jury's decision comes just hours after Rivas asked the jury to sentence him to die.

"I made a vow to myself last year I'm not going to die an old man in prison," Rivas said. "You call it the death penalty. I call it freedom."

The seven convicts escaped December 13 from the Connally Unit near Kennedy, Texas. Police said they robbed two Houston area stores as they stockpiled weapons and money.


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Irving police officer Aubrey Hawkins was shot to death December 24 after responding to a report of a robbery in progress at a sporting goods store in Irving, a suburb of Dallas.

He was shot 11 times, dragged from his patrol car and run over by a vehicle before the suspects left the scene.

The judge gave Hawkins' family the chance to address Rivas from the witness stand after the sentence was read, and Hawkins' widow, Lori, sobbed as she spoke. She told Rivas she would never forgive him for killing her husband and leaving their son, Andrew, without a father.

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"If I could change places with Aubrey that night and have you take my life instead I would, just so Andrew would have a father," she said wiping tears from her eyes. "You have no idea what you've done and you sit there with no remorse on your face and I can't stand it. You make me sick."

Hawkins spoke sharply to Rivas, demanding he give her the "respect" of looking at her while she talked.

"I can't forgive you and I will never forgive you," she sobbed. "And the day that you die I will be there to watch you die the way you watched Aubrey die except your death is so much easier than he got. I hate you for that. ... I can honestly say, George, I hate you."

The men were captured in Colorado more than a month after their escape. One of the inmates shot and killed himself as authorities closed in on their hideout.

Rivas was the first of the surviving six convicts to go on trial. Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty against them all.


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