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Judge declines to postpone Arlington killer's execution

A state district judge this afternoon declined to delay Thursday's execution date for condemned killer Heliberto Chi.

Chi, 29, is sentenced to die for the March 2001 shooting death of Armand Paliotta, manager of the Southwest Arlington K&G Men's Superstore. Chi will be the first inmate from Tarrant County to be executed since the Supreme Court ruled in April that the three-drug protocol used in lethal injections does not violate the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Chi, a native of Honduras who lived in Arlington, is scheduled to die after 6 p.m. Thursday.

His attorney, Wes Ball of Arlington, asked State District Judge Phillip Vick to postpone the execution because authorities in Los Angeles, where Chi was arrested weeks after the shooting, did not tell Chi of his right under an international treaty to speak with a representative of his home country before being questioned by Arlington police.

That's a violation of the Vienna Convention in which the United States agreed to, Ball said in court Tuesday.

Chi, who once worked at the K&G Men's Superstore. arrived at the store after 9 p.m. on the night of the killing, saying that he was looking for his wallet. Workers allowed him inside, where he pulled out a .357 revolver to carry out a robbery, according to news accounts and court testimony.

Before leaving, he shot Paliotta, 56, and employee Adrian Riojas in the back. Paliotta was mortally wounded but Riojas survived and testified against Chi. The gunman and his getaway driver, Hugo Alejandro Sierra, fled and split up.

Chi was arrested in Los Angeles after eluding police for six weeks. Sierra was apprehended separately and is now serving a life sentence for his role in the killing.

Information in this story includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.