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Ex-cop Fratta executed for wife’s murder

FILE – This booking photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows Robert Fratta, a former suburban Houston police officer on death row. Fratta was set to be executed on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, for hiring two people to kill his estranged wife nearly 30 years ago. (Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP, File)

An ex-cop in suburban Houston was executed Tuesday after he hired two people to murder his wife almost 30 years ago. This occurred amid a custody and divorce battle.

Robert Fratta 65 received a lethal injection at Huntsville’s state penitentiary for the November 1994 shooting death of Farah, his wife. At 7:49 p.m., he was declared dead 24 minutes after receiving the fatal dose of powerful sedative pentobarbital into his arms.

Fratta was tied to the death chamber gurney by his spiritual advisor Barry Brown with intravenous needles in both arms. This took place about three minutes before execution began.

Brown placed his prayer book next to Fratta’s, with his right hand resting on Fratta’s right, and asked for prayers for his “hearts that are broken…for people who have grieved and who will grieve in the days ahead”.

Fratta answered “No” when asked by the warden whether he had any final words.

Brown continued praying while the lethal drugs started. Fratta closed his eyes, took a deep breathe, and then snorted loudly six more times. All movement stopped at that point.

Prosecutors claim that Fratta orchestrated the murder-for hire plot, in which Joseph Prystash hired Howard Guidry as the shooter. Farah Fratta (33), was shot twice in her head in her garage in Houston’s suburb of Atascocita. Robert Fratta was a Missouri City public safety officer and had long maintained his innocence.

The punishment was delayed by less than an hour, until the last of a flurry of last-day appeals cleared both the U.S. Supreme Court as well as Texas’ highest courts (the Texas Supreme Court and Texas Court of Criminal Appeals).

Fratta’s lawyers claimed that Fratta was hypnotized by investigators. This led her to alter her initial memory that she had seen two men at the crime scene and a getaway driver.

Prosecutors argued that the hypnosis did not produce any new information or new identification. According to court records, they also claimed that Fratta had expressed his desire to kill his wife repeatedly and asked his friends if they knew of anyone who could help. Guidry and Prystash were also sentenced to death for their involvement in the murder.

Fratta was also among four Texas death row prisoners who filed a lawsuit to stop the use of what they claim are unsafe execution drugs and expired drugs in Texas’ prisons. The lawsuit was also dismissed late Tuesday.

Fratta’s lawyers had previously appealed to the Supreme Court and lower courts, arguing that insufficient evidence and incorrect jury instructions were used to convict Fratta. His lawyers also failed to argue that the jury in Fratta’s case was not impartial, and that there wasn’t any ballistics evidence linking him to the murder weapon.

Last week, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously rejected Fratta’s death sentence being commuted to a lower penalty or to grant Fratta a 60-day reprieve.

Fratta was sentenced to death for the first time in 1996. However, a federal judge overturned his conviction and ruled that confessions of his co-conspirators should not have been admitted into evidence. The judge also stated that Fratta was egotistical and misogynistic with a desire to murder his wife.

In 2009, he was retried and sentenced to death.

Andy Kahan, director of victim services for Crime Stoppers of Houston and advocacy, stated that Farah’s father Lex Baquer, who passed away in 2018, raised Robert, Farah, and their three children with his wife.

Kahan, Fratta’s son, Bradley Baquer and Farah’s brother Zain Baquer were among the witnesses to Fratta’s death. Fratta did not acknowledge them nor look at them while they were standing at the window of the death chamber.

Kahan stated after the execution that Bob was a coward when he organized the murder for hire to his estranged wife in 1994. He was still a coward today, 28 years and more later. He was aware that his son was watching and offered him an opportunity to extend an olive branch.

He chose to be a coward and he did. He could have said, “I’m sorry.” “

Fratta was the first Texas inmate to be executed this year, and the second in America. Eight more executions are planned in Texas later in the year.

Source: AP

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