Man executed for killing wife and her daughter tells family to ‘forgive me and move on’ in dying statement

Texas Execution (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Texas Execution (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

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, Texas. He was condemned for the September 2009 deaths of Lovetta Armstead, 32, and her daughter, Jazzmen Montgomery, at their home in Dallas. Green’s attorneys did not file any appeals seeking to stop the execution.

Green offered an apology in his final statement before being executed.

“Vetta, Jared, Ray I’m sorry, no I’m not sorry, I apologise for all the harm I have caused you and your family,” he said. “We ate together, we broke bread together, we laughed and cried together as a family. I’m sorry I failed you, there’s nothing I can do. I’m not just saying that because I’m laying on this gurney. We were all one and I broke that bond right or wrong I took not one, but two people that we all loved, and I had to live with that while I was here.

“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 to heal and move on. Sorry JT, I always loved you and I told you I will never say goodbye, but this is goodbye. There’s nothing I can do to bring your mom and sister back. One thing about the man I used to be, is that I never stopped loving y’all. See y’all on the other side. God bless you. I’m done, warden.”

Ray Montgomery, who is Jazzmen’s father, 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 Mr Montgomery, 43.

In prior appeals, Green’s attorneys had claimed he was intellectually disabled and had a lifelong history of psychiatric disorders.

“These impairments likely rendered (Green) unable to form the requisite intent to commit capital murder,” Green’s attorneys wrote in 2018.

Those appeals were rejected by the US 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 Mr Healy, who is now a defense attorney in Dallas.

Mr 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 Mr Montgomery, who is a special education English teacher.

In recent years, Mr Montgomery and Jerome Armstead have participated in domestic violence seminars. Mr Montgomery said he’s tried to help other people recognise the signs of domestic violence, signs he didn’t see before Lovetta Armstead and his daughter were killed.

“Just being able to go out and help and spread awareness has been, like, therapy to me,” Mr Montgomery said.

Mr Montgomery, who is a deacon at his church in Dallas, said he’s continued to live his life like his daughter is still here, including throwing her a party every birthday. He also had a high school graduation party for her, including a parade at her gravesite and a backyard barbecue with family.

“That was my way of dealing with it, to make it feel like she’s still here. I prayed over her grave one day and I told her I would never let her name die down,” Mr Montgomery said.

Green’s execution was the first of two scheduled in Texas this week. Another inmate, Arthur Brown Jr., is set to be executed Thursday.

Green was the fourth inmate in Texas and the eighth 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 inmates, including Green, have been executed this year.

The Independent and the nonprofit Responsible Business Initiative for Justice (RBIJ) have launched a joint campaign calling for an end to the death penalty in the US. The RBIJ has attracted more than 150 well-known signatories to their Business Leaders Declaration Against the Death Penalty - with The Independent as the latest on the list. We join high-profile executives like Ariana Huffington, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson as part of this initiative and are making a pledge to highlight the injustices of the death penalty in our coverage.