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Texas to execute man who murdered his two daughters

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A man who killed his two young daughters at his Dallas apartment in 2001 while the girls’ mother listened on the phone and heard the gunshots and her children’s screams, is scheduled to be executed in Texas on Thursday.

John Battaglia, 62, a former accountant, is set to be put to death by lethal injection at the state’s death chamber in Huntsville at 6 p.m. (0000 GMT). It would be the third execution this year in the United States, all in Texas.

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Lawyers for Battaglia launched a last-minute appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court to spare his life, arguing he suffers from severe mental illness and his “perception of reality may be so distorted that he is incompetent to be executed.”

They said three experts who examined him found he has “delusional disorder of the persecutory type,” and was mentally incompetent for execution.

Lawyers for Texas contend Battaglia understands what he has done, is competent to be executed and used his intelligence to deceive the experts.

Battaglia had been divorced from his wife, Mary Jean Pearl, for about a year when he fatally shot their two daughters, Mary Faith, then 9 years old, and Liberty, 6, prosecutors said.

At the time of the shooting, Pearl was seeking to have him arrested for violating a protective order by threatening her.

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According to court documents, shortly before Battaglia was scheduled to host his daughters for a regular dinner, a police officer informed him by phone he needed to surrender for violating his probation.

The officer asked him to turn himself in so that police would not have to take him into custody while he was with his daughters, court documents showed.

After the girls arrived at his apartment, he left a message on his wife’s phone. When she called back, he put the phone on speaker and demanded that his wife speak with daughter Mary Faith.

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The daughter then asked: “Mommy, why do you want Daddy to go to jail?” and could be heard a few seconds later saying: “No, Daddy, please don’t, don’t do it.”

Then the mother heard gunshots and screams. Battaglia shouted an obscenity at her on the phone, the documents showed.

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Pearl called 911 and police found the dead girls in Battaglia’s apartment. Both had been shot multiple times.

After the shooting, Battaglia went to a bar with his girlfriend and was arrested shortly afterward at a tattoo parlor where he was getting rose tattoos to remember his dead daughters, the documents showed.

It took a jury about 20 minutes to convict him.

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(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Peter Cooney)


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New Zealand may postpone general election after 4 test positive for COVID-19: PM Jacinda Ardern

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New Zealand locked down nursing homes nationwide Wednesday after a 102-day streak without the coronavirus ended, as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the outbreak could force her to postpone next month's general election.

Ardern said authorities were scrambling to trace anyone who had been in contact with four Auckland residents who tested positive Tuesday, ending the dream run in which the virus had been contained at New Zealand's borders.

A three-day stay-at-home order for Auckland, New Zealand's biggest city with a population of 1.5 million, was announced on Tuesday night and went into force at lunchtime on Wednesday.

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2020 Election

Android phones to get ‘ShakeAlert’ earthquake warnings — and phones may double as tremor detectors

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Android phones will receive warnings triggered by a "ShakeAlert" earthquake early-warning system implemented on the West Coast by the US Geological Survey and partners.

ShakeAlert uses signals from hundreds of seismometers across the state to trigger warning messages that "an earthquake has begun and shaking is imminent," according to the system's website.

"We saw an opportunity to use Android to provide people with timely, helpful earthquake information when they search, as well as a few seconds warning to get themselves and their loved ones to safety if needed," principal software engineer Marc Stogaitis said in a blog post.

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2020 Election

‘Don’t talk about racism, racist’: Trump scorched after claiming Biden-Harris campaign has a ‘racism problem’

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President Donald Trump continued to lash out at Kamala Harris after the California Democrat was chosen to join the 2020 Democratic Party ticket as presumptive nominee Joe Biden's running mate.

At a news conference following the selection, Trump complained about Harris being "nasty."

After 10 p.m. on Monday, Trump tweeted out an attack ad claiming "Joe Biden has a racism problem."

Here's some of what people were saying about Trump's line of attack:

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