Execution in Texas: Gary Green executed for death of estranged wife and her daughter

A Texas prisoner sentenced nearly 14 years ago for fatally stabbing his estranged wife and drowning her 6-year-old daughter in a bathtub has been executed Tuesday.

Gary Green, 51, was lethally injected at Huntsville State Penitentiary. He was convicted of the September 2009 death of Lovetta Armstead, 32, and her daughter, Jazzmen Montgomery, at their Dallas home. Green’s lawyers have not filed an appeal to have the execution stopped.

A Buddhist spiritual advisor chosen by Green stood next to the stretcher in the death chamber at the prisoner’s feet and offered a short prayer. Green then apologized when asked by the director if he had a definitive explanation.

“I apologize for any harm I’ve caused you and your family,” Green said, looking at relatives of his victims watching through a window. “We ate together, we laughed and cried together as a family. I’m sorry I let you down.”

He said he “took two people that we all loved, and I had to live with that while I was here.”

“We were all one and I broke that bond,” he continued. “I ask you to forgive me, not for me but for all of you. I’m about to go home and you’ll all be here. I want to make sure you don’t suffer. You must forgive me and heal and go further … I am no longer the man I used to be.’

This undated photograph from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows inmate Gary Green.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP

Instead of sticking the IV needles in each arm, prison technicians had to use a vein in Green’s right arm and a vein on the top of his left hand, delaying the injection for a while.

As the lethal dose of the narcotic pentobarbital began, Green thanked prison wardens, chaplains, and “all the beautiful people of the Polunsky Unit,” the prison that houses the convicted men of Texas. Then he took a few quick breaths, which turned into snoring. After nine snores, all movement stopped. Several relatives of the victims hugged and cried.

He was pronounced dead 33 minutes later at 7:07 PM

Ray Montgomery, Jazzmen’s father and one of the witnesses, recently said he did not welcome Green’s execution, but saw it as the justice system at work.

“It’s justice for the way my daughter was tortured. It’s justice for the way Lovetta was killed,” Montgomery, 43, said. He and other witnesses did not speak to reporters afterward.

In previous appeals, Green’s lawyers had alleged that he was mentally retarded and had a lifelong history of psychiatric disorders. Those appeals were rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts of appeals.

The Supreme Court has banned the death penalty for people with intellectual disabilities, but not for people with serious mental illness.

Authorities said Green committed the murders after Armstead tried to have their marriage annulled. On the day of the murders, Armstead had written two letters to Green telling him that while she loved him, she should “do what’s best for me.” In his own letter, which was angry and incoherent, Green expressed a belief that Armstead and her children were involved in a plot against him.

“You asked to see the monster, so here he is the monster you made for me. … They will be taken 5 lives today, I’m the 5th,” Green wrote.

Armstead was stabbed more than twenty times and Green drowned Jazzmen in the house’s bathtub.

Authorities said Green also planned to kill Armstead’s two other children, then 9-year-old Jerrett and 12-year-old Jerome. Green stabbed Jerrett, but both boys survived.

“We won’t tell anyone about it,” Jerrett told jurors in testimony about how he convinced Green to spare their lives.

Josh Healy, one of the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office prosecutors who convicted Green, said the boys were incredibly brave.

Green “was a bad guy. It was one of the worst cases I’ve ever been a part of,” said Healy, now a Dallas attorney.

Montgomery said he still has a close relationship with Armstead’s two sons. He said they both lead productive lives and that Jerome Armstead has a daughter who looks like Jazzmen.

“They’re still suffering a lot, I think,” said Montgomery, a special education English teacher.

Green’s execution was the first of two scheduled for this week in Texas. Prisoner Arthur Brown Jr. will be executed on Thursday.

Green was the eighth inmate in the US to be executed this year.

He was one of six death row inmates in Texas who participated in a trial to prevent the state prison system from using what they say is expired and unsafe execution drugs. Despite a civil judge in Austin tentatively agreeing to the claims, four of the Texas inmates, including Green, were executed this year.

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