By Karen Brooks
AUSTIN, Tex. (Reuters) - Texas on Wednesday executed a San Antonio man convicted of kidnapping a single mother from a bus stop, then robbing, raping and murdering her.
Ramon Torres Hernandez, 41, was convicted in the 2001 death of 37-year-old Rosa Maria Rosado.
Hernandez was pronounced dead by lethal injection at 6:38 p.m. local time at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas, according to the state department of corrections. He was the 39th execution in the United States this year and the 14th in Texas.
"I'm sorry for putting you through all of this. Tell everyone I love them," Hernandez said, as part of a brief final statement, according to Jason Clark, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
"To everybody back on the row, I know you're going through a lot over there. Keep fighting, don't give up, everybody," he quoted Hernandez as saying.
Hernandez had also been linked to the rapes and murders of two teenage girls in the 1990s and was considered the prime suspect in the killings of two others in a nearby county.
A DNA test linked Hernandez to the similar rape and murder of cousins Sarah Gonzales, 13, and Priscilla Almares, 12, in 1994, according to an account by the Texas Attorney General's Office.
According to recent news reports, officials in Bandera County, south of San Antonio, also considered him a prime suspect in the deaths of teens Jennifer Taylor and Laura Gamez, who disappeared a month before Gonzales and Almares.
Hernandez was one of three people convicted in the attack on Rosado, the crime for which he was executed.
Also involved were Santos Minjarez, who was sentenced to death but died of an illness on death row in January 2012. Hernandez's girlfriend, Asel Abdygapparova, 42, was sentenced to life in prison and will be eligible for parole in 2045.
In March 2001, the three were riding in a car when Rosado was abducted at a bus stop and yanked inside the car, according to an account by the Texas Attorney General's Office. The men tried to take her purse and demanded money, but she insisted she had none, according to the attorney general's account.
Rosado was taken to a motel, where she was raped and strangled to death, according to the account. During the ordeal, Abdygapparova, a master's student from Kazakhstan, was sent to a nearby store to buy a shovel, state officials said.
Five days later, Abdygapparova told police what had happened and led them to the bus stop, the motel and to Rosado's body - which was buried in a shallow grave near the University of Texas-San Antonio campus.
Abdygapparova, who was five months pregnant with Hernandez's child at the time of the killing, told authorities she feared for her life and was coerced into taking part. She said she did not know which man had killed Rosado, the attorney general's office said.
Hernandez confessed to witnessing the attack but said Minjarez was the killer.
(Editing by Greg McCune, Edith Honan and Lisa Shumaker)