A 62-year-old former accountant was put to death today in Texas — more than 15 years after he was convicted of killing his two daughters in May 2001 while their mother listened helplessly to the horror on speakerphone.
The execution of John David Battaglia has been postponed twice before; his attorneys unsuccessfully petitioned the United States Supreme Court, seeking a suspension of his sentence, claiming Battaglia is mentally incompetent for execution.
Battaglia was given a lethal injection and pronounced dead at 9:40 p.m. local time.
When asked if he had any final words, Battaglia used his last few moments to seemingly taunt his ex-wife, “No. Well, Hi Mary Jean. See y’all later. Go ahead, please.”
Battaglia murdered his 9-year-old daughter, Faith, and her 6-year-old sister, Liberty, inside his Dallas apartment. He and his wife, Mary Jean Pearle, the girls’ mother, were separated at the time and the murders happened during a scheduled visit.
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Pearle called Battaglia’s home the night of the killings, and he placed the call on speakerphone.
“No, daddy, please don’t, don’t do it!,” she heard Faith pleading.
Pearle, according to investigators, screamed into the phone, begging for the children to run. Next, she heard gunshots.
Before he disconnected the call, Pearle told detectives Battaglia wished her a “Merry f—ing Christmas.”
Pearle heard more gunshots before Battaglia hung up.
Faith was shot three times while Liberty was shot five times.
Police say he was found hours later at a nearby tattoo shop, getting two red roses inked on his left arm in honor of his daughters.
Battaglia’s lawyers were unavailable for comment at press time.
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Authorities have said Battaglia murdered his daughters to get back at their mother, who had filed a harassment claim against him. He believed his arrest was imminent, authorities have said.
He had previously been arrested in 1999 for assaulting Pearle on Christmas of that year.
In 2014, Battaglia told the Dallas Morning News his daughters were his “best little friends” and that he does not remember killing them.
“I don’t feel like I killed them,” he said. “I am a little bit in the blank about what happened.”