Attorneys try to block execution of Texas man who killed daughters

John David Battaglia was convicted of killing his two young daughters. (File photo)
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HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) Attorneys filed an eleventh-hour lawsuit Tuesday in hopes of blocking the execution of a former Texas accountant convicted of shooting his two young daughters to death while his wife listened helplessly on the phone.

The federal lawsuit accuses Texas prison officials of using outdated pentobarbital for two recent executions and contends that John Battaglia, 62, risks suffering unconstitutional pain if the lethal injection is carried out using the same drug.

His lawyers cite the reaction of two inmates executed in January, arguing Anthony Shore reported a burning sensation to the sedative in the seconds before he died two weeks ago and William Rayford grimaced and shook his head as he was put to death Tuesday.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark says the lawsuit is "nothing more than legal maneuvering."

He says the two executions cited took place without incident, that the inmates lost consciousness "almost immediately" and were each pronounced dead 13 minutes later.

The identity of the drug supplier, by state law, is not disclosed, other than to say that it was obtained from a compounding pharmacy.

Battaglia was scheduled to receive a lethal injection just after 6 p.m. Thursday for the May 2001 slayings of his 9-year-old daughter, Faith, and her 6-year-old sister, Liberty.

Battaglia and his wife had separated and the girls were killed at his Dallas apartment during a scheduled visit.

Earlier Thursday the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an appeal in which attorneys argued that a lower court improperly refused Battaglia’s lawyers money to hire an expert to further examine claims that he isn't mentally competent to be executed.

The execution would be the third of the year in both Texas and the U.S.