A Texas accountant smiled as he was executed by lethal injection on Thursday, after he was convicted of killing his two young daughters while their mother was forced to listen on speakerphone.
In May 2001 John David Battaglia shot nine-year-old Faith and her six-year-old sister, Liberty, while they were visiting him at his home.
He and wife Mary Jean Pearle had separated, and on seeing the girls’ mother among witnesses at his execution he looked at her, smiled, and said: “Well, hi, Mary Jean”.
“I’ll see y’all later. Bye”
He had initially told the warden: “No,” when asked if he had a final statement, and after these words, said: “OK. Go ahead, please”.
Ms Pearle had previously been forced to listen to the pleading of their daughters, moments before they were murdered by Battaglia.
After the lethal injection was administered Battaglia closed his eyes and looked directly up. 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. Time of death was recorded as 9.40pm CST — 22 minutes after the lethal injection: the third to be administered by the state of Texas this year, was introduced.
Prosecutors argued Battaglia had used his last visit with their girls to act on anger after Ms Pearle had told the police he had been harassing her.
Returning a call from one of the daughters, she heard Faith pleading with her father.
“No, daddy, please don’t, don’t do it!” Faith begged.
Pearle yelled into the phone for the children to run, then heard gunshots.
“Merry ******* Christmas,” Battaglia told Ms Pearle, before she called the police following more gunshots.
Faith was shot three times, Liberty five. 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. It took four officers to subdue him. A fully loaded revolver was found in his truck and more than a dozen firearms were recovered from his apartment.
“I don’t feel like I killed them,” he said. “I am a little bit in the blank about what happened.”
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