'Texas 7' man gets death sentence he pleaded for

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The Independent US

An American convict who led a breakout from a Texas jail that sparked a massive manhunt across southern states was sentenced to death on Wednesday for killing a policeman while on the run.

Defence lawyers had been trying to get George Rivas, 31, a life sentence, arguing that he never intended to murder Aubrey Hawkins during a robbery of a Dallas sports shop on Christmas Eve last year.

But Rivas urged jurors to give him a death sentence rather than force him to be locked up for 23 hours a day in an isolation cell. In a written statement, Rivas said he shot the officer during the robbery because he thought he was reaching for his revolver. When others joined in the shooting, Rivas was shot twice by his own men.

Rivas was considered to be the ringleader of the "Texas 7", who broke out of a south Texas prison on 13 December. After the Dallas robbery they fled to Colorado, where police finally captured them in a trailer park on 22 January.