Austin (KXAN) — Former police officer Robert Fratte, who was sentenced to death for killing his wife in a murder-for-hire plot, nearly had his execution delayed.
A jury found Fratta guilty of hiring two men to kill his ex-wife in 1994 during a custody battle. He maintained his innocence, but was later retried and re-sentenced to death in 2009.
Although the guilty verdict has not changed since then, a separate case has emerged that could have delayed his execution.
Fratta and three other Texas death row inmates sued the Texas Department of Criminal Justice alleging that the prison system used expired drugs for lethal injection.
Travis County Civil District Judge Katherine Mauzy issued a temporary injunction against the lawsuit that prevented the state from using what she believed was expired pentobarbital, which Texas uses for lethal injection. A source familiar with the case told KXAN that the pentobarbital lawsuit has very narrow parameters regarding how the drug is stored and maintained.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice appealed the injunction. Around 6:30 p.m., a spokesman said the injunction had been lifted, so the execution proceeded.
Criminal defense attorney Alan Bennett, who is not involved in the case but has experience working with death row inmates, said he believes inmates and lawyers will continue to challenge drug and execution issues in the future. .
“I would be very surprised if the recent decision provided a definitive answer to all these questions, all these questions,” he said.
According to the TDCJ, Fratta was pronounced dead at 7:49 p.m. Tuesday. He did not make the final statement.