DALLAS, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- John Battaglia, convicted in 2002 of murdering his two daughters, is not mentally competent for his upcoming execution, psychologists in Dallas testified.
Prosecutors believe Battaglia, 60, a former accountant, has sufficient understanding of his crime, a prerequisite under state law, to proceed with the Dec. 7 execution. Defense attorneys say he has a mental illness and should be spared.
Battaglia was convicted in the 2001 shooting deaths of his daughters, 6 and 9, at his home while his ex-wife listened on the telephone, pleading with him not to commit the crime. His wife, Mary Jo Pearle, was attempting to have him jailed for a parole violation at the time. Immediately after Battaglia shot his daughters he obtained tattoos of two roses on his arm in their memory.
The jury took 20 minutes to convict him in 2002.
Three psychologists testified Monday, agreeing Battagia suffers from delusional disorder, in which a victim has strongly believed untrue things. All three said Battaglia is mentally incompetent for execution, but disagreed on the reasons.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Diane Mosnik testified that Battaglia, who once was adequately intelligent to pass a CPA certification exam, is aware of his execution date but unaware of why he is being put to death, believing a conspiracy, involving lawyers, judges and the Pope, are out to "quiet him." Meanwhile, Dr. Timothy Proctor and Dr. Thomas Allen, said Battaglia does not understand he is responsible for his daughters' deaths, and that the lack of "rational understanding" disqualifies him from the death penalty.
Battaglia's execution was scheduled for March 2016 but was postponed so further psychological evaluation could be performed.
More testimony is scheduled for Tuesday, and it will be up to State District Judge Robert Burns to determine Battaglia's competency.