John Battaglia’s execution is set to go ahead after a federal court denied his appeal. The Texas resident fatally shot his daughters while his ex-wife listened helplessly over speakerphone.
John Battaglia’s execution is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. on February 1, 2018 at Texas’ death chamber in Huntsville. This will be the third execution in the U.S. so far in 2018.
In 2001, the former accountant killed his two daughters, nine-year-old Faith and six-year-old Liberty, at his Dallas loft during a scheduled visit. Battaglia and his wife had separated about a year prior.
The horrific events unfolded on May 2, 2001 when Battaglia called Dorrace Pearle, his former mother-in-law, saying he needed to talk to his ex-wife. Mary Jean Pearle called her ex-husband to see what he wanted. They started arguing.
At the time, Pearle was looking to have Battaglia arrested for violating a protective order by harassing her. Prosecutors were processing a motion to revoke Battaglia’s probation for previously assaulting Pearle and to arrest him.
Battaglia put Faith on the phone. The girl asked her mom, “Why are you trying to have Daddy arrested?”
Pearle then heard Liberty scream, “No, daddy, no!” as shots rang out.
Witnesses saw Battaglia leave his apartment complex in a truck. Police eventually apprehended Battaglia outside a tattoo parlor after a short struggle. He had gotten a rose tattoo to commemorate the daughters he’d just killed.
It only took a jury around 20 minutes to convict Battaglia.
Looming Battaglia Execution Follows History of Violence
Even before murdering his two daughters, John Battaglia was well-known to police. In August 1987, Battaglia assaulted his first ex-wife, knocking her unconscious, dislocating her jaw, and breaking her nose. He was convicted and completed a year of probation for the assault.
He was convicted of one count of assaulting Pearle on December 25, 1999. For that, he received a sentence of two years’ probation and a $1,000 fine.
Lawyers for Battaglia had filed an appeal, arguing a lower court impeded them from hiring an expert to examine claims that their client isn’t mentally competent to be executed.
The Supreme Court has ruled that prisoners can only be executed if they are aware the death penalty is being carried out and they understand why they’re being executed.
Prosecutors contend Battaglia is fully aware of what he has done and is competent to be executed. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the prosecution, paving the way for Battaglia’s execution.