(Updated) Deep Ellum Child Killer John Battaglia Executed Thursday Night

Update: Feb. 2 — After several last minute appeals were denied by the United States Supreme Court and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the state of Texas executed Battaglia at about 9 p.m. Thursday. In his final moments, Battaglia expressed no remorse for killing his two daughters.

He looked around the room, according to WFAA's Rebecca Lopez, and spotted his ex-wife, Mary Jean Pearle.

“Hi Mary Jean, see y'all later. Bye,” Battaglia said.

After being given his lethal injection, Battaglia's last words were a wisecrack.

“Am I still alive?” Battaglia said. “Ah, here it is. I can feel it.”

Barring a last-minute reprieve, Texas will execute one of Dallas' most notorious murderers at 6 p.m. Thursday. John Battaglia, 62, killed his daughters, 9-year-old Faith and 6-year-old Liberty, in 2001 in his Deep Ellum loft while on the phone with their mother. He's been on death row in Livingston since his capital murder trial ended in 2002.

The state initially set Battaglia's execution for March 30, 2016. That month, Battaglia received a temporary stay of execution from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals so doctors could evaluate his mental state. In Texas, death row inmates must understand both the reasons for execution and that their death is imminent in order to be executed.

Over the next two years, Battaglia's lawyers argued that their client had suffered from delusions that made him believe he did not kill his daughters. A psychiatrist testified for the state of Texas in November 2016 that he believed Battaglia was either playing up his symptoms or faking. On Dec. 5, 2016, Battaglia again dodged execution when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered further arguments on Battaglia's mental state, halting a lower-court ruling that set his execution for Dec. 7.

In September, the Court of Criminal Appeals, Texas' highest criminal court, dismissed Battaglia's insanity claims, clearing the way for his execution. Battaglia's lawyers filed a motion for a stay of execution with the U.S. Supreme Court last week, again arguing that Battaglia doesn't understand why Texas is about to kill him.

Barring a Supreme Court decision in his favor, Battaglia will be executed almost 17 years after killing his daughters. According to prosecutors, Battaglia committed the murders to get back at his wife, who'd threatened to have his probation for domestic violence revoked. After the murders, Battaglia drove to an East Dallas tattoo shop, memorialized the killings with a tattoo and left a message on his ex-wife's answering machine.

"Goodnight, my little babies. I hope you are resting in a different place. I love you," Battaglia said.

Battaglia's execution will be the third in Texas this year and the second this week after William Rayford was killed Tuesday.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young