U.S. Fifth Circuit - The FindLaw 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Texas Executes 3rd Man of 2018

As lawyers scrambled to save his life, John David Battaglia prepared to die.

The attorneys asked any court that would listen to arguments that Battaglia was delusional, mentally incompetent, and shouldn't be executed for fatally shooting his two young daughters. They were nine and six years old.

The last-minute appeals didn't work. They usually don't in Texas.

Third Execution

Texas has put three men to death in the last 30 days, accounting for all the executions in the United States so far this year. Other executions were set in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Alabama, but they have been stayed or rescheduled.

A Texas jury convicted Battaglia and sentenced him to death in 2002. He murdered his children while their mother listened to their screams on the phone.

"No, Daddy, please don't, don't do it," Faith pleaded as her mother yelled into the phone, "Run, run for the door!"

Defense witnesses said that Battaglia suffered from bipolar disorder and manic depression. The testimony did not persuade jurors or the courts of appeal.

Phenobarbital Defense

In their final petition, Battaglia's lawyers complained that the state's lethal injection method was cruel and unusual. They pointed to the January executions of William Rayford and Anthony Shores.

"During Mr. Rayford's execution, he attempted to raise his body, was shaking, grimaced, breathed in a strained and heavy manner, and jerked his head into the gurney multiple times," they told the federal district court in Houston.

"During Mr. Shore's execution, his body shook, he appeared to be struggling to breathe, and he cried out 'I can feel that it does burn. Burning!'"

Battaglia received the same deadly dose. Meanwhile, Texas has scheduled three more executions. Thomas Whitaker, who was convicted of hiring a hit man who murder his mother and brother, is scheduled to die on Feb. 22.

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