Man who hired hit men to murder wife is executed despite expired death drugs plea
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A man who hired hitmen to kill his wife has been executed, despite an appeal over expired lethal injection drugs.
Robert Fratta's estranged wife Farah was shot twice in the head in her garage in Houston in 1994. Prosecutors said Fratta organised the murder-for-hire plot in which middleman, Joseph Prystash, hired shooter, Howard Guidry, with others claiming Fratta had made comments about killing her during their divorce and custody battle.
Prystash and Guidry were also sent to death row.
Former cop Fratta maintained his innocence throughout the three decades he spent on death row, but yesterday (Tuesday 10 January) he received the lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Alabama.
His death was preceded by a back-and-forth legal battle over the drugs used to carry out the lethal injections.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has been extending the use-by dates of its lethal doses of pentobarbital - the only drug used in Texas executions - after retesting their potency levels.
This practice, which has been going on for years, has been condemned by lawyers who argue the testing is done incorrectly and that old drugs have caused painful deaths that violate the U.S. Constitution's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.
The appeals were rejected and Fratta was pronounced dead at 7:49 pm, 24 minutes after the lethal dose of the powerful sedative pentobarbital began flowing into his arms.
Fratta was accompanied by his spiritual advisor Barry Brown who prayed over him and lay his prayer book by his head.
Asked if he had any last words, Fratta said: "No."
Andy Kahan, the director of victim services and advocacy for Crime Stoppers of Houston, watched the execution alongside Fratta's son, Bradley Baquer, and Farah's brother, Zain Baquer.
According to AP, Kahan said after the execution: "Bob was a coward in 1994, when he arranged the murder for hire of his estranged wife.
"And 28-plus years later, he still was a coward tonight. When he was offered an opportunity to at least extend an olive branch to his son that he knew was watching this.
"And he still chose the coward's way out. He could have said: 'I'm sorry.''