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Texas executes man who killed his daughters

Jamaica Observer / CHICAGO, United States (AFP) — The US state of Texas put to death Thursday a man who executed his two young daughters while forcing his ex-wife to listen on the phone. John Battaglia shot to death his six- and nine-year-old daughters in 2001, when they were visiting him for dinner.

He killed them while they were talking to their mother Mary Jean Pearl on speaker phone as apparent revenge for her reporting his probation violation that would land him in jail.

Nine-year-old Faith’s last words were, “No, Daddy. Don’t do it.”

She and her sister Liberty were found dead at Battaglia’s Dallas-area apartment with multiple gunshot wounds.

Battaglia’s lawyers filed last-minute appeals claiming he suffered from mental illness and delusions that made him incapable of understanding why he was being punished.

While previous court rulings delayed earlier execution dates, both a federal appeals court and the US Supreme Court both refused to intervene Thursday, rejecting Battaglia’s final appeals.

He was pronounced dead by lethal injection at 9:40 pm (0340 GMT). Prior to his execution, Battaglia offered few final words.

“Hi, Mary Jean. See y’all later,” he said, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. In a 2014 interview with The Dallas Morning News, Battaglia denied responsibility for the murders, saying, “I don’t feel like I killed them.”

He is the second Texas inmate this week and third this year to be put to death.

The Lone Star state, which carries out the most executions, is also the only one to have put inmates to death so far this year.

The next execution is scheduled in the Midwestern state of Ohio on February 13.

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