Editor's note: WFAA reporter Jason Whitely is one of the media witnesses selected to witness the execution of George Rivas by lethal injection on Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. Follow him on Twitter @jasonwhitely and check WFAA.com Wednesday night.
DALLAS — On Wednesday night, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice will execute George Rivas, 41, for murdering Irving police Officer Aubrey Hawkins on December 24, 2000.
"I'm glad justice is being served and he's going to the death chamber," Lori Hawkins-Acosta, the officer's widow, told News 8. "I just want to see justice served."
Rivas was the ringleader of the so-called Texas 7.
Eleven years ago, he led a daring escape from the TDCJ's Connally Unit near San Antonio. The seven inmates fled first to Houston and later to North Texas, where they robbed an Oshman's sporting goods store in Irving on Christmas Eve.
When Officer Hawkins responded to the call of a possible robbery in progress, Rivas opened fire on the young policeman before he could even draw his weapon.
"Rivas was a pure psychopath," said Toby Shook, the former Dallas County prosecutor who put George Rivas on Death Row.
Shook said the escapees shot Hawkins 13 times and Rivas then ran over his body.
"He testified at his punishment stage that the real punishment would be a life sentence, so please give him the death penalty. Then he spent the next 11 years appealing that," Shook said. "He's a person who gets a thrill out of committing crimes and terrifying people."
Lori Hawkins-Acosta told News 8 she has decided against being a witness at Rivas' execution. Now remarried, she said she still wants to see justice done, but never really felt closure after watching the first of the Texas 7, Michael Rodriguez, get put to death a couple of years ago.
"Just to watch him lay there and go to sleep didn't do anything for me," she said.
Lowell Cannaday, the current police chief in Watauga, was chief of Irving's department when escapees gunned down Hawkins.
"Aubrey was mine, and I was responsible for him," Cannaday explained. "He was here for two years, and was one of those with a big smile on his face all the time — everybody loved him."
Rivas was serving 17 life sentences for other violent crimes when he escaped from prison, the Texas attorney general said.
Rivas declined several recent interview requests from News 8, but in a February 15 interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he apologized for his crimes.
Toby Shook doesn't buy it. He is going to Huntsville to witness Rivas' execution.
Chief Cannaday will be there, too, waiting — like Aubrey Hawkins' widow — for justice to be served, but doubtful that closure will come.