Man shoots daughters to death as mother listens on phone

A man killed his two young daughters while the girls’ mother listened on the phone and heard the gunshots and her children’s screams.

After the shooting, he went to a bar with his girlfriend and was arrested shortly afterward at a tattoo parlour where he was getting rose tattoos to remember his dead daughters, court documents showed.

The incident happened in Dallas, Texas, in 2001.

John Battaglia, 62, had been divorced from his wife, Mary Jean Pearl, for about a year when he fatally shot their two daughters, Mary Faith, then 9 years old, and Liberty, 6, prosecutors said.

At the time of the shooting, Pearl was seeking to have him arrested for violating a protective order by threatening her.

According to court documents, shortly before Battaglia was scheduled to host his daughters for a regular dinner, a police officer informed him by phone he needed to surrender for violating his probation.

The officer asked him to turn himself in so that police would not have to take him into custody while he was with his daughters, court documents showed.

After the girls arrived at his apartment, he left a message on his wife’s phone. When she called back, he put the phone on speaker and demanded that his wife speak with daughter Mary Faith.

The daughter then asked: “Mommy, why do you want Daddy to go to jail?” and could be heard a few seconds later saying: “No, Daddy, please don’t, don’t do it.”

Then the mother heard gunshots and screams. Battaglia shouted an obscenity at her on the phone, the documents showed.

Pearl called 911 and police found the dead girls in Battaglia’s apartment. Both had been shot multiple times.

He is scheduled to be executed on Thursday (today).

Battaglia, a former accountant, is set to be put to death by lethal injection at the state’s death chamber in Huntsville at 6 p.m local time. It would be the third execution this year in the United States, all in Texas.

Lawyers for Battaglia launched a last-minute appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court to spare his life, arguing he suffers from severe mental illness and his “perception of reality may be so distorted that he is incompetent to be executed.”

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