A former suburban Houston police officer was executed Tuesday for hiring two people to kill his estranged wife nearly 30 years ago amid a contentious divorce and custody battle, the AP reports. Robert Fratta, 65, received a lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville for the November 1994 fatal shooting of his wife, Farah. He was pronounced dead at 7:49pm, 24 minutes after the lethal dose of the powerful sedative pentobarbital began flowing into his arms. Asked by the warden if he had a final statement, Fratta, who was strapped to the death chamber gurney with intravenous needles in each arm, replied: “No.” His spiritual adviser was praying over him as the lethal drugs began and Fratta, his eyes closed, took a deep breath and then snored loudly six times. Then all movement stopped.
Prosecutors say Fratta organized the murder-for-hire plot in which a middleman, Joseph Prystash, hired the shooter, Howard Guidry. Farah Fratta, 33, was shot twice in the head in her home’s garage in the Houston suburb of Atascocita. Robert Fratta, who was a public safety officer for Missouri City, had long claimed he was innocent. The punishment was delayed for little more than an hour until the last of a flurry of final-day appeals cleared the US Supreme Court and Texas' highest courts, the Texas Supreme Court and Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Prystash and Guidry were also sent to death row for the slaying.
Andy Kahan, the director of victim services and advocacy for Crime Stoppers of Houston, said that Farah Fratta’s father, Lex Baquer, who died in 2018, raised Robert and Farah Fratta’s three children with his wife. Kahan, Fratta's son, Bradley Baquer, and Farah's brother, Zain Baquer, were among witnesses watching Fratta die. Fratta never acknowledged them or looked at them as they stood at a window to the death chamber. “Bob was a coward in 1994, when he arranged the murder for hire of his estranged wife," Kahan said after the execution. “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.'”
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