A man who shot and killed his two daughters in 2001 was executed in Texas on Thursday evening.
John Battaglia, 62, called the girls’ mother before murdering his six and nine-year-old daughters in his Dallas apartment.
A last-minute appeal arguing Battaglia suffered from severe mental illness failed.
His lawyers asked the US Supreme Court to spare Battaglia from execution and review his case because his “perception of reality may be so distorted that he is incompetent to be executed”.
Battaglia was the third prisoner put to death in the US this year. All executions have taken place in the state of Texas.
Battaglia smiled as the mother of his slain children, Mary Jean Pearle, and other witnesses to his execution walked into the death chamber viewing area.
Asked by the warden if he had a final statement, the inmate replied: “No,” then changed his mind.
“Well, hi, Mary Jean,” he said, looking and smiling at his ex-wife. “I’ll see y’all later. Bye.”
After that, he told the warden: “Go ahead, please.”
Battaglia then closed his eyes and looked directly up. A few seconds later he opened them back up and lifted his head. “Am I still alive?” he asked.
The powerful sedative pentobarbital began to take effect. “Oh, I feel it,” he said. He gasped twice and started to snore. Within the next few seconds, all movement stopped.
The time of death: 9:40 p.m. CST – 22 minutes after the lethal dose began.
Pearle turned away from an execution-viewing window after Battaglia stopped breathing and walked to the back of the witness area.
“I’ve seen enough of him,” she said. She returned several minutes later to watch as a physician examined Battaglia and pronounced him dead.
The former accountant and Mary Jean Pearl divorced a year before the killings. Ms Pearl was seeking his arrest for violating a protective order against her the night he murdered their daughters.
On that evening in May 2001, Battaglia was scheduled to have dinner with the two girls when police informed him that he was violating probation and needed to surrender, court documents show.
When the girls arrived at the apartment he called his wife and put her on speaker phone.
The nine-year-old daughter asked: “Mommy, why do you want Daddy to go to jail?”
A few seconds later Ms Pearl said she heard her daughter say, “No, Daddy, please don’t, don’t do it”, followed by gunshots and screams,
The girls were found dead in Battaglia’s apartment after being shot multiple times, police said.
According to court documents, Battaglia went to a bar with his girlfriend after killing his daughters, and was later arrested at a tattoo parlour where he was getting tattoos of roses to remember them.
In 2002, Battaglia was convicted by a jury in 20 minutes.
Experts determined that he had “delusional disorder of the persecutory type” after examining him. However, prosecutors said that Battaglia was aware of his crimes and therefore fit to be executed.