Texas to execute man convicted of shooting estranged wife to death in 2005

(Reuters) - A 64-year-old man is scheduled to be put to death in Texas on Wednesday, 15 years after authorities say he fatally shot his estranged wife who told her friends she did not expect to get out of the abusive marriage alive.

John Gardner is set to be executed by lethal injection at 6 p.m. CDT (2300 GMT) at the state's death chamber in Huntsville for the murder of his wife Tammy Gardner, 41, in 2005.

Gardner, who a jury found guilty and sentenced to death in November 2006, would be the first inmate in the United States to be executed in 2020. Texas has executed more prisoners than any other state since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

Soon after Tammy and John Gardner got married in 1999, she began showing signs of physical abuse that included bruising, headaches, sleeplessness, anxiety and depression, prosecutors said.

Her friends told authorities that at one point Tammy had a black eye after John shoved her into a book case and, in other instance, she suffered from a large bruise across her face after he hit her with a hammer, court documents said.

On many occasions, she told friends she would not get out of her marriage alive, prosecutors wrote in a court document submitted during a recent appeal.

On Jan. 23, 2005, about a month after she filed for divorce, Tammy Gardner asked a co-worker to help her "disappear" so no one could track her. That night, John went to Tammy's home and shot her once in the head, prosecutors said. She died two days later at a hospital.

The next day, Gardner turned himself in to police in Mississippi. Investigators matched evidence from the crime scene to evidence they found in the truck that he had borrowed from his brother-in-law, court papers showed.

Prosecutors said Gardner also used his brother-in-law's .44 magnum, which his brother-in-law kept fully loaded with live bullets under his mattress. When the gun was found back under the mattress after the crime, it had one spent shell.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Gardner's request to halt the execution so he could go forward with an appeal on the grounds that he did not receive adequate representation from his legal team.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Chicago; Editing by David Gregorio)

01/15/2020 11:07

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