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A jury found Gardner guilty of capital murder in November 2006 and sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence in October 2009. All of his subsequent appeals in state and federal court were denied.
In its opinion, the Court of Criminal Appeals wrote that while the physical evidence connecting Gardner to the killing was admittedly minimal, the circumstantial inculpatory evidence, compounded by the lack of conflicting or exculpatory evidence, was sufficient to convince a jury of his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. For the burglary element, the court wrote that there was ample evidence to convince a jury that Gardner entered Tammy's home without her consent. The court did not address the retaliation element.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take Gardner's case. There were no further appeals filed on his behalf, so his Wednesday execution began on schedule at 6:00 p.m.
Tammy's son, daughter, and mother attended Gardner's execution and watched from a room adjacent to the death chamber. He apologized to them several times in his last statement.
"I would like to say sorry for your grief," he said. "I hope what I'm doing today will give you peace, joy, closure, whatever it takes to forgive. I am sorry. I know you cannot forgive me, but I hope one day you will."
Gardner then spoke to some friends who watched from another viewing room. He told them he loved them, then said he was going to ask the warden to go forward with the punishment because "I want to see the Lord Jesus so bad." He added that he would "ask Jesus to help them forgive me one day please."
Gardner apologized one more time, then concluded with "I love you. Thank you, warden." The lethal injection was then started. He was pronounced dead at 6:36 p.m.
By David Carson. Posted on 26 January 2020.
Sources: Texas Department of Criminal Justice, court documents, Associated Press, McKinney Courier-Gazette.