Texas court rejects the appeal of death row inmate Ivan Cantu

Cantu, whose case was the subject of a popular true crime podcast and whose execution was halted just days before it was scheduled to take place in April, now may go back on the execution schedule.


Ivan Cantu in a July 2022 interview from Texas’ Polunsky Unit, which houses the state’s male death row inmates.

Ivan Cantu, a Texas man whose execution was halted just days before it was scheduled to take place now may go back on the execution schedule after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled he failed to merit a new hearing in his case.

In April, a district court in Collin County ordered Cantu’s execution date be withdrawn, saying additional proceedings were necessary after his attorney filed a clemency petition.

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.

That led 380th Judicial District Court Judge Benjamin A. Smith to order the execution date withdrawn. Now, a trial judge in Collin County, where the murders Cantu was convicted of occurred, could set a new execution date.

In 2001, a jury convicted Cantu for the 2000 murder of his cousin, James Mosqueda, and his cousin's fiancée, Amy Kitchen, in the Dallas area.

Amy Kitchen and James Mosqueda were murdered in their Dallas-area home in November 2000.

In the two decades Cantu has been on death row, numerous questions have been raised about evidence used to convict him, the performance of his court-appointed defense attorneys, and the performance of his court-appointed state appeals attorney that prevented his claims about the trial attorneys from being heard by federal courts.

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.

A promotional image for the Cousins by Blood podcast, which focuses on the 2000 murders of James Mosqueda and Amy Kitchen. Mosqueda’s cousin, Ivan Cantu, was sentenced to death for the murders.

Nearly 20 years after Cantu's conviction, podcaster and private investigator Matt Duff came across his case. When he took a closer look, he thought there were some lingering questions – including whether Cantu was truly guilty.

He began his own investigation, searching for more proof of either – in what became a lengthy podcast series called Cousins by Blood, which has brought renewed attention to the case.

Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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