- Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Sixteen years after he was sentenced to death for killing his two daughters while their mother listened over the phone, Dallas resident John Battaglia became the third prisoner to be executed in Texas this year.
Battaglia, 62, showed no remorse for his crimes. After he was administered the lethal injection, Battaglia asked, “Am I still alive?” while grinning, the Dallas Morning News reported.
His ex-wife and mother to their two daughters, Mary Jean Pearle, attended the execution. Battaglia initially opted to forgo a final statement, but he changed his mind when he spotted Pearle in the gallery to witness his execution.
“Well, hi Mary Jean,” Battaglia said, appearing to taunt her. “See y’all later. Go ahead please.”
In May 2001, Battaglia shot and killed his two daughters, six-year-old Liberty and nine-year-old Faith in his Dallas loft. During his murder trial, Pearle described what she heard over the phone the day of their murders.
“And then I hear Faith going, ‘No daddy, please daddy, don’t do it! Daddy please don’t do it!” Pearle testified.
Then, she heard the gunshots, followed by Battaglia yelling “Merry F-cking Christmas!”
Battaglia had a history of domestic violence and was on probation for hitting Pearle at the time of the murders. In 2002, Pearle told ABC News that while she feared him, she never thought he would hurt his daughters.
After he fled the murder scene, he left a voicemail to his daughters, which Pearle listened to the following day. “Goodnight my little babies. I hope you’re resting in a different place. I love you, and I wish that you had nothing to do with your mother. She was evil and vicious and stupid. I love you dearly,” Battaglia said, according to ABC News.
Battaglia was arrested later that same night outside a tattoo parlor, where he had gotten two roses — one for each daughter— tattooed on his arm.
Battaglia's execution was delayed twice before so his mental competency could be evaluated, the Dallas Morning News reported. His attorneys' final attempts to further delay his execution were denied by both the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court shortly before his execution.
He was pronounced dead on February 1, at 9:40 p.m.