Former Dallas accountant John David Battaglia is set for execution Thursday evening for the May 2001 slayings of his 9-year-old daughter, Faith, and her 6-year-old sister, Liberty. Battaglia and his wife had separated and the girls were killed at his Dallas apartment during a scheduled visit while their mother listened helplessly on the phone. His lawyers have appeals before the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals and the US Supreme Court, contending Battaglia, 62, was delusional and mentally incompetent for execution, the AP reports. A state judge and the state appeals court have described Battaglia as highly intelligent, competent, not mentally ill, and faking mental illness to avoid execution. In 2016, his execution was called off seven hours before he was due to be taken to the death chamber.
"No, daddy, please don't, don't do it!" Faith begged as mother Mary Jane Pearle listened on speakerphone. Pearle yelled into the phone for the children to run, then heard gunshots. "Merry ... Christmas," Battaglia told Pearle, the words of the holiday greeting derisively divided by an obscenity. Hours later, Battaglia was arrested outside a tattoo shop where he had two large red roses inked on his left arm to commemorate his daughters. He told the Dallas Morning News in 2014 that his daughters were his "little best friends. "I don't feel like I killed them," he said. "I am a little bit in the blank about what happened." He is set to be the third prisoner executed in the US this year, all in Texas. William Rayford, 64, was executed Tuesday for killing his ex-girlfriend, and "Tourniquet Killer" Anthony Shore was executed Jan. 18.