Dallas Man Gets Death Penalty For Killing Daughters

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February 01, 2018Feb 01, 2018

Among Christians, there is sharp disagreement over the morality of the death penalty. On a political level, there is also disagreement over the legality, effectiveness, and prudence of a punishment that ends a person's life. As a result, a decision by Texas authorities is certain to catch everyone's attention. 

Apparently, a former Dallas accountant is accused of fatally shooting his two young daughters while their mother, unable to stop the incident, listened to the shooting over the phone. The man is looking to the U.S. Supreme Court to spare his life. 

John David Battaglia, 62, is set for execution on Thursday evening for the killing of his 9-year-old and 6-year-old daughters in May of 2001. Attorneys have requested that the Supreme Court stop the punishment and review his case. They claim that Battaglia was delusional and mentally incompetent for execution. As a result of his mental incompetence, they claim that execution would be illegal under US law.

So far in 2018, a total of three prisoners have been in the United States, and all three of them have taken place in Texas. Last year, in 2017, a total of 23 convicted killers were executed, with 7 of them residing in Texas.

Only hours before Battaglia's scheduled punishment, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the appeal that argued a lower court improperly refused his lawyers money to examine claims that he is mentally incompetent for execution. Indeed, the Supreme Court has ruled that prisoners cannot be executed if they're aware that the person is not rational enough to understand why they are facing such a punishment. 

A state judge, disagreeing with Battaglia's lawyers, claimed that the man was very intelligent, competent, and not mentally ill. The judge further insisted that he was faking mental illness in order to avoid execution. 

A testimony at a hearing showed Battaglia used the prison library to research case rulings on mental competence. He also discussed with his the father the "chess game" of avoiding his execution. Judge Rober Burns, who claims that Battaglia is mentally competent, pointed out that the killer has a master's degree and shows that he isn't a "typical inmate." This is because, according to the judge, he is particularly intelligent and capable of maintaining a deliberate ploy to avoid execution.

On a religious level, therefore, questions arise over whether the death penalty is ever a moral course of action. And if so, questions arise regarding when the death penalty can morally be used. On a legal level, it is difficult to determine whether this execution is legal according to US law, or whether US law coincides with Christian teachings on the sanctity of life and the death penalty. 

According to CBS News, prosecutors claim that Battaglia became furious at his wife after she notified police about his harassment. The wife returned a phone call from Battaglia, who was with the daughters and had a gun to them. 

"No, daddy, please don't, don't do it!" yelled Faith, one of the daughters. 

Battaglia then used an obscenity, wished his wife "Merry Christmas," and then began firing shots. He was arrested hours later and charged with murdering his daughters. 

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