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DALLAS (CBS11) – John David Battaglia will get another day in court.
The Dallas man facing execution for the murder of his two daughters, received a legal reprieve from a U.S. Court of Appeals Wednesday. The court ruled Battaglia is entitled to new legal representation to determine if he is mentally competent.
Several people connected to the 2001 arrest and subsequent prosecution of Battaglia anticipated his execution, which was set for Wednesday evening.
Fifteen years ago, the former accountant met his ex-wife in the parking lot of a Park Cities shopping center to receive daughters Faith and Liberty for his scheduled visit. Battaglia was under a court order to stay away from his ex-wife’s Highland Park home.
Not long after the children were given to Battaglia, he got his former wife Mary Jean Pearle on the phone.
“Why do you want daddy to go to jail,” one of the girls reportedly said to Pearle over the phone. Seconds later, Pearle heard one the children say “No, no, daddy,” then gunshots.
John Battaglia was arrested a few hours after that phone call. Police found his daughters dead inside his Deep Ellum loft. Both died from multiple gunshots.
“I’ll never forget the mother’s anguish,” Howard Blackmon recounted.
Blackmon was the lead prosecutor in the capital murder trial against Battaglia. The case was considered horrific. There was little question prosecutors wanted a death sentence.
“I remember being worried about getting a jury, because everyone knew about these murders. That was a life sentence he gave (the ex-wife) her, by murdering their children. A man of pure vindictiveness,” Blackmon said.
The outcry from the Dallas area over the murders of Faith and Liberty Battaglia created a legacy for them.
Today, the domestic violence victim support agency, The Family Place, operates Faith and Liberty’s Place.
The center is a specialized visitation program.
Parents can visit their children under supervision of security and counselors. The Family Place opened their Dallas center five months after the murders of the Battaglia girls.
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