Sixty-year-old former Dallas, Texas accountant John Battaglia, who was given the death penalty after shooting his two daughters – nine-year-old Faith and six-year-old Liberty – was granted a last-minute reprieve on Wednesday, March 30 from the Fifth United States Circuit Court of Appeals in order for his defense attorney to pursue mental incompetency claims.
The execution, which was set for 6 p.m. that day, was postponed until the courts can determine whether Battaglia should not be executed on the basis of possible mental problems and “delusions”.
On May 2, 2001, Battaglia shot his two daughters in his Deep Ellum loft while his ex-wife was listening on the phone.
At his capital murder trial, an adult daughter from a previous marriage said Battaglia was suffering from narcissistic personality disorder, characterized by manipulative behavior, a lack of empathy, and a hyper-inflated sense of importance, according to his psychiatrists.
Gregory Gardner, Battaglia’s present legal counsel, said Battaglia has long “exhibited bizarre behavior consistent with severe mental illness”.
The appeals court did not decide whether or not Battaglia qualified for an insanity defense but concurred that he previously “lacked counsel to prepare his claim of incompetency”, noting that Battaglia had a history of saying that his lawyers wanted to secure his execution.