A former Dallas accountant condemned for fatally shooting his two young daughters while their mother listened helplessly on the phone was put to death Thursday night in Texas. John David Battaglia was executed for the May 2001 killings of his 9-year-old daughter, Faith, and her 6-year-old sister, Liberty. Battaglia and his wife had separated, and he shot the girls at his Dallas apartment during a scheduled visit. The punishment was delayed more than three hours until the US Supreme Court rejected appeals from his lawyers to review his case. They contended the 62-year-old was delusional and mentally incompetent for execution and that a lower court improperly refused Battaglia's lawyers' money to hire an expert to further examine legal claims regarding his mental competency.
Battaglia smiled as the mother of his slain children, Mary Jean Pearle, and other witnesses to his execution walked into the death chamber viewing area, the AP reports. Asked by the warden if he had a final statement, the inmate replied: "No," then changed his mind. "Well, hi, Mary Jean," he said, looking and smiling at his ex-wife. "I'll see y'all later. Bye." After that, he told the warden: "Go ahead, please." Battaglia then closed his eyes. A few seconds later he opened them back up and lifted his head. "Am I still alive?" he asked. The powerful sedative pentobarbital began to take effect. "Oh, I feel it," he said. He gasped twice and started to snore. He was pronounced dead 22 minutes after the execution began. His lethal injection was the nation's third this year, all of them in Texas.