Execution Watch: John David Battaglia, Texas

by Mark R: Execution Watch Editor

(The definitions below are taken from dictionary.reference.com)

Faith: a noun meaning (among others, the most common involving a belief in a deity or a religious teaching) “confidence or trust in a person or thing”.

Liberty: a noun meaning (among others, the most common involving a government) “freedom from captivity, confinement, or physical restraint”.

faith-battagliaFaith and Liberty were also the names of two young girls (ages 9 and 6, respectively), taken from this world way too soon, thanks to Huntsville’s March 30th guest of (dis)honor, John David Battaglia.

Family members have killed other family members since Cain murdered Abel.  And children have been the center of parental disputes since parents have had disputes.  Sometimes, tragically, the two meet.

liberty-battagliaBut you will be hard-pressed to find a more cold-hearted family murder than that of the Battaglia children.

Battaglia had Faith and Liberty for a scheduled custody visit.  But on May 2, 2001, Battaglia would place a call to his ex-wife (the girls’ mother).  Battaglia would then proceed to destroy Faith’s faith and restrain Liberty’s liberty by murdering the girls while their mother overheard the murders on the phone.

In Texas, killing children (especially your own) will usually get you a death sentence, and less than one year later (April 2002) that would be the punishment handed down by the jury.

All of Battaglia’s appeals have been DENIED.  However, he has persistently claimed that he was suffering from bipolar disorder, and shouldn’t be executed for what he did (he also claims that he can’t remember a thing about what happened).  I have a close friend with bipolar who had issues with her ex-spouse over their daughter—but she NEVER considered killing her in revenge.

In addition to the tragic story, the bipolar angle, and that it was one of the more notorious murders to come out of Dallas, I’ve followed this case for another reason:  while prisons tend to be overpopulated with school dropouts and menial laborers, Battaglia had enough education to obtain a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license from the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy.  As a Texas CPA licensee myself, Battaglia is a stain on our honorable profession.  The wheels of justice may move slowly but the TSBPA doesn’t—roughly one year after his conviction his CPA license was REVOKED.

https://www.tsbpa.state.tx.us/php/fpl/indlookup.php?x=5Rp8bo1dZ%2BE%3D

Sometime after 6PM Huntsville time, Wednesday evening, Battaglia will pay for his crimes.  AND—he won’t be able to have his CPA license reinstated.

Photo credit http://www.cncpunishment.com

 

Execution Watch: Adam Kelly Ward, Texas

by Mark R. Execution Watch Editor

March 22 brings us our second execution of the month, this time that of Adam Ward (no, not either of the actors in the old Batman series; that was Adam West and Burt Ward).  Commerce isn’t the place you would expect a capital murder to occur; usually the police only have to deal with out of control frat parties at Texas A&M—Commerce. Unfortunately, underneath the general calmness of daily life in a college town, the simmering of a pot about to blow was taking place.

The City of Commerce and the Ward family (Adam and his father Ralph) had been in a long-standing dispute over numerous code violations on the Ward property. The Wards claimed that the City was engaged in a conspiracy against them; the City countered that the property resembled something you would see on the TV series Hoarders.

pee wee walkerBut the feud between the parties would turn tragic shortly after 10 AM local time on June 13, 2005, when Code Enforcement Officer Michael “Pee Wee” Walker would go to the Ward property to take pictures of still more code violations. Walker would be met with multiple rounds of gunfire from Adam (before Ralph managed to get the gun away from Adam). In another tragic twist, the first responder at the scene was none other than Walker’s father Dick, who would watch his son die in his arms.

As Walker was a member of the Commerce Police Department, Ward would be charged with capital murder (murder of a peace officer and known to be such by the defendant). In Texas, that’s usually the fastest way to get a death sentence, and in June 2007 that would be the punishment handed down by the jury.

Ralph Ward would later enter into a settlement with Walker’s family, agreeing (without admitting fault) to pay the children $26,000 each plus the costs of Walker’s funeral and attorney’s fees. The City would later provide police protection to any city employee (even meter readers) going to the Ward property. (Walker’s father would later sue the City, on behalf of himself and the children, claiming that the City knew of the dangers but did nothing to protect Walker; I have no information on the outcome of that suit.)

All of Ward’s appeals have been DENIED; however, numerous appeals have been filed claiming he is mentally ill (bi-polar disorder) and therefore should not be executed. I know someone with bi-polar and she absolutely rejects any and all conspiracy theories. There are many sad stories in this case. Ralph Ward’s conspiracy-fueled rants led to him having to pay thousands of dollars to Officer Walker’s family—and he will have to see his son die before him. Dick Walker (who has managed to forgive Adam) had to see his own son die in his arms. Officer Walker’s children have grown up without their father. The City had to spend more taxpayer money to provide police protection for city employees who had to visit the Ward property—police who could have been working to prevent or solve other crimes.

And Adam Ward—only 22 when he fired the fatal shots—will die at 33, way before his time. But he could have chosen to reject the rantings of an unstable parent—he didn’t, though, and sometime after 6PM Huntsville time he will have to pay for his failure to choose wisely.

Execution Watch: Special Report

by Mark R. Execution Watch Editor

Execution Watch:  SPECIAL REPORT–Upcoming Texas Executions

justice-servedTDCJ has been fairly active so far in 2016 with three executions already carried out. And this year could be among the busiest in recent memory, with TEN more scheduled through July.

According to the TDCJ Death Row site, the following executions are scheduled (subject to successful last minute stays):

Date: March 2

Offender: Coy Wayne Wesbrook

Summary of Offense: Murdered Gloria Jean Coons (his ex-wife) and three other men (Antonio Cruz, Anthony Ray Rogers, and Kelly Hazlip).  TDCJ states a female at the residence was shot, C&CP Forum states that she also died (Diana Ruth Money).  In a tale only Channelview (home of the Pom Pom Mom) could provide, Wesbrook went over to his ex-wife’s residence for an attempted “marital reconciliation”, only to find three men and a female there.  He later found her in a threesome, so he did what any heartbroken man would do–go out to his truck, get his hunting rifle, and start shooting everyone.

Date: March 22

Offender: Adam Kelly Ward

Summary of Offense: Murdered Michael “Pee Wee” Walker, a Commerce Code Enforcement Officer, while Officer Walker was taking pictures of code violations outside Ward’s home.  The Wards (Adam and father Ralph) had been in a running feud with the City of Commerce over the condition of the Wards’ property–the Wards claiming the City was harassing them unfairly; the City claiming that the Wards’ property resembled something from the TV show Hoarders.  The City would later settle with Officer Walker’s father (a first responder who watch his son die in his arms) and children over complaints that Walker was sent into a dangerous situation without adequate backup.

Date: March 30

Offender: John David Battaglia

Summary of Offense: Murdered Faith and Liberty Battaglia (his daughters) over a custody dispute.  In one of the most sickening and heartbreaking stories in recent years, Battaglia gets the daughters for a custody visit, then calls their mother on the phone and proceeds to kill them while she overhears everything.  The Texas State Board of Public Accountancy has already revoked Battaglia’s CPA license (as a CPA myself this is a stain on our honorable profession).

Date: April 6

Offender: Pablo Lucio Vasquez

Summary of Offense: Along with co-defendant Andy Chapa, murdered Daniel Cardenas (age 12).  Although they stole some of Cardenas’ property, the main reason for his murder was so Vasquez could engage in the Satanic ritual of drinking Cardenas’ blood.

Date: April 27

Offender: Robert Lynn Pruett

Summary of Offense: While incarcerated at the McConnell Unit and serving a life sentence for murder with a deadly weapon, Pruett killed TDCJ Correctional Officer Daniel Nagle.

Date: May 11

Offender: Terry Darnell Edwards

Summary of Offense: Going back to a former restaurant where he was employed, Edwards killed the store manager (Tommy Walker) and another employee (Mickell Goodwin) during a robbery.

Date: June 2

Offender: Charles Don Flores

Summary of Offense: Along with co-defendant Richard Lynn Childs, Flores murdered Elizabeth Black (age 64) at her home in Farmers Branch during a robbery.  (They didn’t find any money.)

Date: June 21

Offender: Robert Leslie Roberson III

Summary of Offense: Struck and killed Nikki Curtis, his two-year-old daughter.  Not only is Roberson an example of the failed prison revolving door (during a 10-year stretch he would be out on parole three times, returned twice for violating parole–the first time with two additional charges, then incarcerated for this crime), evidence showed he molested his daughter as well.  (Had he been placed in general population he would likely be dead by now.)

Date: July 14

Offender: Perry Eugene Williams

Summary of Offense: Along with three others, Williams abducted and murdered Matthew Carter, a first-year student at Baylor College of Medicine, while he was returning a video to a Houston video store.

Date: July 27:

Offender: Rolando (a/k/a Roland) Ruiz, Jr.

Summary of Offense: Ruiz was the triggerman in a murder-for-hire plot where he killed Theresa Rodriguez so her husband could collect life insurance proceeds.  The tale would be otherwise non-descript (other than he also received a 2-year sentence for assaulting a Bexar County jailer as well), except that her husband (who received a life sentence) was Michael Rodriguez, later to become one of the notorious Texas 7 (and the first of them to be executed).

Execution Watch: Gustavo Julian Garcia, Texas

By Mark R, Execution Watch Editor

Barring any last minute stays, Tuesday will bring us the third execution of the year for Texas (and the only one scheduled for this month).

Gustavo Garcia is, to put it nicely, a thug. And one that we have waited way too long to execute. (It’s so old the death row info is the old paper copy.)

On December 9, 1990, up in Plano (DFW area where I live), Garcia and his thug partner Christopher Vargas went into a liquor store and proceeded to rob the clerk, Craig Turski. Garcia shot him once in the abdomen, he tried to run but they reloaded and shot him in the head. A customer who saw Garcia managed to leave and come back with her husband, they found the store deserted and called police. The clerk was found but died later.

Nearly one month later (January 5, 1991) the thugs, now accompanied by Garcia’s girlfriend (also reported as his “common-law wife”, or “whore” as it used to be said) went to a Texaco in Plano and repeated the same thing. The clerk (Gregory Martin) happened to be on the phone with his girlfriend, warned her he was being robbed, and told her to call the police. Although his warnings weren’t enough to prevent his murder (Garcia was again the triggerman), they were enough to get the police there before the thugs could escape.

Garcia confessed to both crimes and was tried on the Turski murder. (Vargas was tried for capital murder and sentenced to life; the whore tried for conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery and sentenced to 20 years.) As if two capital murders in less than a month weren’t enough of an indicator of future dangerousness, the prosecution brought up his multiple burglaries while a juvenile, his numerous disciplinary actions while in school, and the problems he created while in jail awaiting trial. Not surprisingly he was sentenced to death. However, Garcia managed to get his original sentencing phase overturned on federal habeas appeal in 2000.

But not only were all the prior incidents rehashed at the second sentencing trial (March 2001), during his incarceration time Garcia tried to escape from prison in 1998, which of course was also used against him. (You think you might want to be a model prisoner so as to maybe get a life sentence the next time?) The second time was the same as the first (death sentence) but this time, ALL appeals were DENIED (the final appeal was DENIED the day before Masterson’s execution).

Garcia’s demise is, again, way overdue: he’s been on death row (since 1992) longer than my SO’s daughter has been alive (born 1995).

TDCJ info on Garcia:

Texas Attorney General press release:
https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/news/releases/media-advisory-gustavo-garcia-scheduled-for-execution

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