The Associated Press reports that a Dallas man convicted of killing his two daughters in his apartment in 2001 was sentenced to death and is scheduled for execution in Texas this week.
John Battaglia, 62, formerly worked as an accountant and is set to be executed via lethal injection at 6 p.m. Thursday in Texas’ state death chamber in Huntsville. This will be the third execution in 2018 in the U.S., all of which have taken place in Texas.
A final appeal was filed by defense attorneys with the U.S. Supreme Court to seek a stay, saying Battaglia is mentally unstable and his “perception of reality may be so distorted that he is incompetent to be executed.” Three experts are said to determine he has a delusional disorder and is mentally incompetent to be executed by the state.
State prosecutors argued that he understands what he did and is competent, and deceived the experts during exams.
Battaglia divorced his wife, Mary Jean Pearl, about a year prior to fatally shooting their two daughters. At that time, Pearl was already seeking to have him arrested for violating a protective order and threatening her, says the AP.
Court documents state that just before he was to have dinner with his daughters, he received a phone call from an officer stating he had violated his probation and needed to surrender. He was asked to come in of his own accord so that he didn’t need to be arrested in front of his children.
Battaglia left a message on Pearl’s phone when the girls arrived at his apartment. When she returned the call, he put her on speaker phone and had one of the girls ask her why she wanted her daddy to go to jail. A few seconds later, she could be heard saying “no, daddy, please don’t, don’t do it.”
Pearl heard gunshots and screams and Battaglia shouting obscenities. She called 911 and police found the dead girls in the apartment. Battaglia went to a bar with his girlfriend after shooting them both multiple times, then went to a tattoo shop to get tattoos to remember his dead daughters by. Officers arrested him at the shop.
At trial, the jury convicted Battaglia after 20 minutes.
*Photo credit Reuters/AP