Judge finds convicted Dallas child killer competent for execution

A judge has ruled the Dallas man convicted of killing his two daughters is mentally competent and fit to be executed.

State law requires a defendant to understand why they are being sentenced to death, and Judge Robert Burns concluded John Battaglia is competent to be put to death.

The district judge listened to several days of testimony about the competency of Battaglia, who fatally shot his 6 and 9-year-old daughters in 2001 in Dallas. A jury recommended the death penalty the following year.

Battaglia was just hours away from being executed in March when a federal appeals court gave him a reprieve. He was granted a court-appointed attorney to investigate claims that he may be mentally incompetent. A judge ruled on Friday to uphold the death sentence ruling.

Physiologist Dr. James Womack interviewed Battaglia and suspected he was faking the delusional disorder. He testified it wasn't so much the denial that stood out, but how Battaglia could perfectly recall the rest of the day. But an expert witness for the defense said there's no way Battaglia could fake a delusion disorder on so many tests that factor in for lying.

Prosecutors say Battaglia is an intelligent man who researched case law in the prison library to portray himself as incompetent.

The convicted killer’s father, also named John Battaglia, was outside the courtroom on Tuesday after hearing testimony that could send his son back to death row.

“My son still looks good,” he said. “But I think he's accepting the fact that we are not going to get a positive ruling out of this place.”

Battaglia is slated to be put to death on December 7.

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