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Ex-cop’s execution delayed as judge rules lethal injection cannot be expired

A former police officer's execution has been delayed this week after a judge ruled that a lethal injection can not use expired drugs.

Robert Fratta, 65, was set to be executed on Tuesday (January 10) for hiring two people to kill his estranged wife in 1994.

The former Houston cop's execution is now in limbo due to the judge's ruling that the state of Texas is unable to use expired drugs.

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Fratta's execution was due to the November 1994 fatal shooting of his wife, Farah, with the pair going through a divorce and custody fight for their three children, at the time of her death.

According to prosecutors, the 65-year-old organised the murder-for-hire plot in which Joseph Prystash, a middleman, hired the shooter, Howard Guidry.

Farah Fratta, 33, was shot twice in the head by Guidry in her home's garage in a crime that Robert has long pleaded his innocence.

Fratta's attorneys asked the US Supreme Court to halt the execution scheduled for Tuesday evening on the basis that prosecutors withheld evidence that a trial witness had been hypnotised by investigators.

They say the alleged hypnotism led the witness to say that she saw two men at the murder scene as well as a getaway driver.

Fratta, alongside two other Texas death row inmates have sued to stop the state's prison system from using what they believe are expired and unsafe execution drugs.

Attorneys for the inmates asked civil court Judge Catherine Mauzy in Austin for a temporary injunction to prevent the state from using the allegedly expired drugs, including during Fratta's execution, during a hearing.

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The drug used for the lethal injections – pentobarbital – is alleged to be expired and likely medically compromised by an expert who testified on behalf of the inmates.

Despite the testimony from the expert, attorneys for the state prison system have argued that no issues have been raised with the drug's use in previous executions.

Fratta first entered death row in 1996, but a federal judge originally overturned this as they ruled that confessions from his co-conspirators shouldn't have been admitted into evidence.

Fratta was subsequently retried and resentenced to death in 2009 and his death would mean he becomes the first inmate put to death this year in Texas and just the second in the US.


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