Murder-for-hire husband nearly dodges death row over a lawsuit

The execution of former police officer Robert Fratta nearly got delayed after being convicted of killing his wife in a murder-for-hire plot.

Fratta was convicted in 1994 of hiring two men to kill his estranged wife during a custody battle. In 2009, he was given a retrial and sentenced to death after a stint of maintaining his innocence.

Since then, the guilty verdict has not changed, but a separate case had a chance of delaying his execution.

In a lawsuit filed against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Fratta and three other inmates alleged the prison system used expired drugs for lethal injections.

As a result of that lawsuit, Travis County Civil District Judge Catherine Mauzy issued a temporary injunction that prevented the state from using expired pentobarbital, which Texas uses in its lethal injections.

The lawsuit over pentobarbital has very narrow parameters regarding how it is stored and maintained, according to a source familiar with the case.

An appeal was filed by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice against the injunction. After 6:30 p.m., a spokesperson announced that the injunction had been vacated, allowing the execution to proceed.

Alan Bennett, a criminal defense attorney who has experience with death row inmates, believes inmates and attorneys will continue to challenge issues related to the drug and the execution process.

He shared, “I would be very surprised if the recent ruling is definitive on answering all these issues, all these questions.”

TDCJ reports Fratta was pronounched dead at 7:49 pm and did not make a last statement.