Texas executes Robert Fratta – with drug copy expired for several years
On Tuesday night, 65-year-old Robert Fratta was executed by lethal injection in Huntsville, Texas. He was sentenced to death for allegedly ordering the murder of his wife, who was separated from him, in 1994 in connection with a custody dispute over their three children.
Fratta has always denied the crime. His conviction was based almost entirely on the testimony of a single witness, who in return received immunity from prosecution.
Fratta’s execution was delayed by a good hour because of pending summary proceedings. Hours earlier, a judge had issued a stay because the execution drugs had expired. For its part, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals lifted the stay, which was upheld by the Texas Supreme Court.
Due to supply problems of chemicals for executions, Texas has been purchasing its pentobarbital for several years from unknown sources of so-called compounding pharmacies, which mix the active ingredient themselves.
For years, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has extended the expiration date of its lethal doses of pentobarbital after retesting the active ingredient content. Defense attorneys have criticized the practice, claiming the tests are not done properly and that old drugs can cause painful deaths.
The seven doses of pentobarbital that the Department of Corrections (TDCJ) last reported having in stock were originally scheduled to expire two or more years ago, according to lawyers for the prisoners. The TDCJ has since relabeled the expiration dates of the drugs to September and November.