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Texas to Execute Ex-cop for Hiring 2 People to Kill Wife
A former suburban Houston police officer was scheduled to be hanged on Tuesday for paying two persons over 30 years ago to murder his divorced wife. In the midst of a difficult divorce and custody battle for their three children, Robert Fratta, 65, is due to receive a lethal injection for the November 1994 fatal shooting of his wife, Farah.
Prosecutors allege that Fratta orchestrated the murder-for-hire scheme, in which a middleman, Joseph Prystash, hired the gunman, Howard Guidry. Guidry shot Farah Fratta, 33, twice in the head in her garage in the Houston neighborhood of Atascocita. Robert Fratta, a former Missouri City public safety officer, has long maintained his innocence.
According to court records, Fratta regularly voiced his wish to see his wife killed and asked many acquaintances if they knew anybody who would kill her, telling one friend, “I’ll simply kill her, and I’ll serve my time, and when I get out, I’ll have my kids,” according to prosecutors. Prystash and Guidry were both sentenced to death for the murder.
Fratta’s attorneys have petitioned the United States Supreme Court to stay the execution scheduled for Tuesday evening at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, claiming that prosecutors concealed evidence that an investigator hypnotized a trial witness. They claim this caused her to revise her initial memory of seeing two males at the murder site as well as a getaway driver.
“This would have undercut the State’s case, which relied on only two persons performing the act and relied on linking Fratta to both,” Fratta’s attorneys argued in their Supreme Court appeal. Prosecutors claim the hypnosis yielded no new information or identification.
Previously, the Supreme Court and lower courts rejected petitions by Fratta’s lawyers seeking to reconsider accusations that insufficient evidence and erroneous jury instructions were used to condemn him. His defenders also failed to convince the court that one of the jurors in his case was biased and that ballistics evidence did not link him to the murder weapon.
Last Thursday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously refused to modify Fratta’s death sentence to a lesser penalty or grant him a 60-day reprieve. Fratta is also one of three Texas death row inmates who have filed a lawsuit to prevent the state’s prison system from utilizing expired and hazardous execution medications.
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The top criminal appeals court in Texas stopped a civil court judge from issuing any orders in the complaint last week. A hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday. Fratta was condemned to death for the first time in 1996, but his conviction was overturned by a federal judge who found that confessions from his co-conspirators should not have been accepted as evidence.
The judge added in the same finding that “trial evidence revealed Fratta to be egocentric, sexist, and cruel, with a callous wish to murder his wife.” In 2009, he was retried and sentenced to death. Andy Kahan, director of victim services and advocacy for Crime Stoppers of Houston, who has assisted Farah Fratta’s family throughout the investigation, said he intends to attend the execution in order to fulfill a promise he made to Farah Fratta’s father, Lex Baquer, who died in 2018.
Robert and Farah Fratta’s three children were raised by Baquer and his wife. “I don’t expect anything from Bob that would reflect any kind of repentance or guilt since everything has always centered on him,” Kahan added. The execution will let the children “go on with their lives” and, at the very least, stop thinking about him.
“I believe that will play a significant role in their recuperation,” he stated. Fratta would be the first convict executed in Texas this year, and the second in the United States. In Texas, eight more executions are slated for later this year.