Texas, the state that has put to death more people than any other, carried out the nation’s first execution of the decade Wednesday, reports the Texas Tribune. John Gardner was executed for the 2005 murder of his soon-to-be ex-wife. Tammy Gardner was shot and killed in her home weeks before the couple’s divorce was finalized. She called 911 before she died to say her husband had shot her. Gardner, 64. had a history of domestic violence, including the shooting of a previous wife who later died from her injuries.
He had argued that his crime should not have been prosecuted as a capital murder. A capital murder conviction required the jury to decide that the killing was committed during another felony crime — home burglary or retaliation for his wife being a witness in their divorce proceeding. Gardner’s current attorneys said his trial lawyers should have raised an “abandonment rage” defense. The Gardners had been married for more than five years, and it was an abusive relationship. Tammy Gardner’s friends and relatives testified that her husband had put a gun to her head before and that she had appeared with bruises on her face. Three of Gardner’s previous four wives had also reportedly been abused by him.