The state of Texas executed a former police officer who hired two people to kill his wife almost 30 years ago during a heated divorce.
Robert Fratta, 65, was pronounced dead on Tuesday night at 7:49 p.m. after receiving a lethal injection at the Huntsville state penitentiary.
Fratta, a former suburban Houston police officer, was convicted in a murder-for-hire plot after prosecutors say he hired a middleman, Joseph Prystash, to hire the shooter, Howard Guidry.
Farah Fratta, 33, died after being shot twice in the head inside the garage her home in November 1994, in Atascocita, Texas.
The execution came after the U.S. Supreme Court declined a last-minute appeal from Fratta’s lawyers to halt the execution, arguing that prosecutors withheld evidence allegedly showing that one witness was hypnotized by investigators. The lawyers argue that the alleged hypnotizing caused the witness to change her recollection of the event.
“This would have undermined the State’s case, which depended on just two men committing the act and depended on linking Fratta to both,” lawyers for Fratta wrote in the appeal.
The hypnosis didn’t reveal new information or identification, prosecutors argue, stating that Fratta expressed multiple times that he wanted to see his wife dead, and even asked several people if they knew someone who’d kill her.
Court records show that Fratta allegedly told one friend “I’ll just kill her, and I’ll do my time and when I get out, I’ll have my kids.”
A civil court judge in Austin, Texas issued a temporary injunction on Tuesday which would have blocked the state from using what’s likely expired drugs in the lethal injection, but was allowed to go forward after an appeals court overturned the injunction.
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously agreed not to commute Fratta’s death sentence to a 60-day reprieve or a lower penalty.
The other two men involved in the murder-for-hire plot, Prystash and Guidry, are also on death row for their role in the killing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.