A former Dallas accountant, John Battaglia, condemned for fatally shooting his two young daughters while their mother listened helplessly on the phone is looking to the U.S. Supreme Court to spare his life. Mr. Battaglia is set for execution Thursday evening for the May 2001 killings of his 9-year-old daughter, Faith, and her 6-year-old sister, Liberty. Battaglia’s attorneys have asked the Supreme Court to stop the punishment and review his case, contending that Battaglia was delusional and mentally incompetent for execution.
Testimony at a hearing showed Battaglia used the prison library to research capital case rulings on mental competence and discussed with his father during a phone call from jail the “chess game” of avoiding execution. State Judge Robert Burns, who found him competent, said Battaglia’s intelligence and education — he has a master’s degree — shows he’s not a “typical inmate” and has the “motive and intellectual capability to maintain a deliberate ploy or ruse to avoid his execution.”
According to prosecutors, Battaglia became enraged that his estranged wife, Mary Jane Pearle, notified police about his harassment and he used the scheduled visit with their daughters to act on his anger. Pearle, who had gone to dinner, returned a call from one of her daughters and heard Faith pleading with her father, who put the call on speakerphone.
“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 Pearle, the words of the holiday greeting derisively divided by an obscenity.
There were more gunshots. Pearle called 911.
At the time of the shootings, Battaglia was on probation for a Christmas 1999 attack on Pearle. His profanity-laced Christmas greeting to Pearle was an apparent reference to that.
Faith was shot three times, Liberty five. Hours later, Battaglia was arrested outside at 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.
Battaglia told The Dallas Morning News in 2014 his daughters were his “best little friends” and that he had photos of them displayed in his prison cell. “I don’t feel like I killed them,” he said. “I am a little bit in the blank about what happened.”
Hopefully, the family members of Faith and Liberty will soon receive closure to this horrific ordeal. Fortunately, the memory of Faith and Liberty lives on and The FLP Family Center has helped thousands of other families over the years by providing a clear path for families to progress from fear to safety. For more information, call Jim Mueller at Verner Brumley Mueller Parker PC, 214-526-5234, or you can also visit www.familyplace.org