After nearly four hours of delays prompted by last-minute claims of dated injection drugs and botched executions, John Battaglia of Dallas was put to death on Thursday, the Houston Chronicle reports. Battaglia, 62, had fatally shot his daughters, 9 and 6. Battaglia’s was the third execution of the year, both in Texas and across the nation. Last year, amid a long-term decline in capital punishment, Texas put to death seven prisoners, the most of any state.
Battaglia’s attorneys said he didn’t have a rational understanding of his execution. The state said that he did. In a related claim turned down Thursday by a federal appeals court, Battaglia’s lawyers alleged that he was wrongly denied funding to investigate his competency claims. Just four hours before he was scheduled to die, defense counsel asked for a reprieve in light of fresh claims about the state’s last two lethal injections, including one where witnesses said the prisoner appeared to be jerking in pain, and another where the inmate said the drug burned. “This is nothing more than legal maneuvering,” said Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark, pointing out that both men received more than twice the lethal dose of death drugs and were pronounced dead after 13 minutes. “The executions took place without incident. To claim otherwise is not factual.” Battaglia’s lawyers alleged that the state’s supplies of the lethal barbiturate sodium pentobarbital are too old and should have been tossed close to a year ago. Federal courts did not agree, rejecting his appeals.