death penalty news—-TEXAS

May 30


Jury sends former officer back to death row—-Fratta had been convicted
twice for hiring 2 men to kill his wife

A taut and emotional roller coaster ride ended Saturday when 12 jurors
decided to send Robert Fratta back to death row.

The former Missouri City public safety officer was convicted May 15 for
the 2nd time of hiring 2 men to shoot his wife, Farah, in 1994. His
original conviction had been overturned.

Farahs father, Lex Baquer, thanked God and told an advocate that the
decision was just.

Randy McDonald, one of Frattas lawyer, pleaded with jurors Friday to
reserve the death penalty for the worst killers cop killers, serial
killers and those who torture and murder children.

"We're not going to kill all capital murderers, just those who can't
conform to the rules of society and prison is society," McDonald said. He
said no parole board would let him out of jail.

"This is Texas. Mr. Fratta will die in prison."

Family members, defense lawyers and the convicted killer cried Friday
during overwrought arguments, as prosecutors asked jurors to send Robert
Fratta back to death row and defense lawyers asked for forgiveness.

"Hate and rage dont work," said Vivian King, Fratta's lawyer, who cried
and held hands with Fratta after asking jurors to find forgiveness. "You
can't have any kind of quality of life unless you forgive."

King had argued that Fratta has been a model prisoner for the past 15
years and deserved a life sentence instead.

Under 1994 law, Fratta would have been eligible for parole in 25 years,
after 40 years in prison.

Prosecutors Denise Bradley and Mia Magness alternated between berating
Fratta and invoking images of a broken family.

"This domineering, controlling narcissist is the reason we're all here,"
Bradley said pointing at Fratta.

During the trial, jurors strained to hear sexually-explicit recorded
telephone conversations between Fratta and his girlfriend.

Jurors, selected in March, were sequestered Friday night and ordered by
state District Judge Belinda Hill to continue deliberating on Saturday.

They spent a total of 8 hours behind closed doors.

Hill is expected to officially sentence Fratta Monday, when Farah Fratta's
friends and family can attend.

Baquer and his wife, Betty, raised Robert and Farah's 3 children, who were
in elementary school when the slaying occurred. They were attending the
high school graduation Saturday of Amber Baquer, the youngest of those
children, when they received the news of the sentencing decision.

Fratta's original 1996 conviction was overturned when an appeals court
ruled that the confessions of his co-conspirators, Howard Guidry and
Joseph Prystash, should not have been admitted into evidence because
Fratta's lawyers could not cross-examine them. The 2 remain on death row.

(source: Houston Chronicle)