DALLAS - The fate of convicted child killer now rests in the hands of a Dallas County judge.
The district judge listened to the second day of testimony about the competency of a man who killed his two young daughters.
John Battaglia 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. Now, a judge must decide whether or not he is competent enough to be executed.
During Tuesday’s testimony, a psychologist who interviewed Battaglia on death row in October said he believes he is competent to face his execution. Dr. James Womack said he saw no evidence of delusional thinking during the nearly five-hour interview.
Because other psychologists had different experiences with Battaglia, Womack interviewed him for a second time in November. That’s when he began to suspect he was faking the delusional disorder. However, more tests are needed.
Womack 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.
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's father says he still thinks of his granddaughters every day and admits being there for his son has caused a family divide.
“I don't want to go through another day,” the father said. “The last one was enough, waiting and getting last minute notice that there was a stay after we'd already said good bye and made funeral arrangements.”
The judge plans to make a written ruling by Friday afternoon. Battaglia is currently scheduled to be put to death on Dec. 7, depending on the outcome of the hearing.