By JUAN A. LOZANO and MICHAEL GRACZYK
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A Texas inmate convicted of fatally stabbing his estranged wife and drowning her 6-year-old daughter in a bathtub nearly 14 years ago was executed on Tuesday.
Gary Green, 51, received a lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville. He was condemned for the September 2009 deaths of Lovetta Armstead, 32, and her daughter, Jazzmen Montgomery, at their Dallas home. Green’s attorneys did not file any appeals seeking to stop the execution.
A Buddhist spiritual adviser chosen by Green stood beside the death chamber gurney at the inmate’s feet and said a brief prayer. Green then apologized profusely when asked by the warden if he had a final statement.
“I apologize for all the harm I have caused you and your family,” Green said, looking at relatives of his victims who watched through a window close by. “We ate together, we laughed and cried together as a family. I’m sorry I failed you.”
He said he took “two people that we all loved, and I had to live that while I was here.”
“We were all one and I broke that bond,” he continued. “I ask that you forgive me, not for me but for y’all. I’m fixing to go home and y’all are going to be here. I want to make sure you don’t suffer. You have to forgive me and heal and move on. … I’m not the man I used to be.”
Instead of inserting 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 briefly for Green, who was listed on prison records as weighing 365 pounds (165 kilograms).
As the lethal dose of the sedative pentobarbital began, Green was thanking prison administrators, chaplains and “all the beautiful human beings at the Polunsky Unit,” the prison that houses Texas’ condemned men. Then he took several quick breaths, which evolved into snores. After nine snores, all movement ceased. Several of the victims’ relatives hugged and briefly cried.
He was pronounced dead 33 minutes later, at 7:07 p.m.
Ray Montgomery, Jazzmen’s father and one of the witnesses, said recently that he wasn’t cheering for 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 that Lovetta was murdered,” said Montgomery, 43. He and other witnesses did not speak with reporters afterward.
In prior appeals, Green’s attorneys had claimed he was intellectually disabled and had a lifelong history of psychiatric disorders. Those appeals were rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court and lower appeals courts.
The high court has prohibited the death penalty for the intellectually disabled, but not for people with serious mental illness.
Authorities said Green committed the killings after Armstead sought to annul their marriage. On the day of the killings, Armstead had written two letters to Green, telling him that although she loved him, she had “to do what’s best for me.” In his own letter, which was angry and rambling, Green expressed the belief 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 me. … They will be 5 lives taken today me being the 5th,” Green wrote.
Armstead was stabbed more than two dozen times, and Green drowned Jazzmen in the home’s bathtub.
Authorities said Green also intended to kill Armstead’s two other children, then 9-year-old Jerrett and 12-year-old Jerome. Green stabbed Jerrett but both boys survived.
“Told (Green) because we’re too little to die, and we won’t tell anybody about it,” Jerrett told jurors in testimony about how he convinced Green to spare their lives.
Josh Healy, one of the prosecutors with the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office that convicted Green, said the boys were incredibly brave.
Green “was an evil guy. It was one of the worst cases I’ve ever been a part of,” said Healy, now a defense attorney in Dallas.
Montgomery said he still has a close relationship with Armstead’s two sons. He said both lead productive lives and Jerome Armstead has a daughter who looks like Jazzmen.
“They still suffer a lot, I think,” said Montgomery, who is a special education English teacher.
Green’s execution was the first of two scheduled in Texas this week. Inmate Arthur Brown Jr. is set to be executed Thursday.
Green was the eighth inmate in the U.S. put to death this year.
He was one of six Texas death row inmates participating in a lawsuit seeking to stop the state’s prison system from using what they allege are expired and unsafe execution drugs. Despite a civil court judge in Austin preliminarily agreeing with the claims, four of the Texas inmates including Green have been executed this year. ___
Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter at https://twitter.com/juanlozano70.