“I’m good, let’s roll.” Those were the last words of convicted killer Brett Hartman before his execution by lethal injection in Ohio on Tuesday morning, punishment for the mutilation and murder of a woman in Akron 15 years ago.
Hartman was put to death for the murder of Winda Snipes, whose body was found by police on her bedroom floor, without hands, her throat slit and her body shredded by 138 stab wounds. She was still alive when Hartman tied one of her ankles to the bed with pantyhose.
Snipes had spent the last night of her life with Hartman, a meeting that began in a dive bar called Bucket Shop across the street from her apartment, according to court records.
After her death, police received anonymous 911 calls that turned out to be from Hartman -- who had slept with Snipes that night. He later said he found her body and ran from the scene.
Hartman claimed he was innocent -- except to fellow inmate Bryan Tyson at the Summit County Jail, to whom he’d mentioned a hacksaw when talking about her death, according to Tyson’s testimony. "Don't leave home without it,' ” Tyson testified Hartman told him, “like the credit card commercial."
The years between 1997 and his execution were filled with appeals. Hartman’s defense accused another neighbor of being a prime suspect and said not enough evidence had been scientifically examined. A six-month moratorium on executions in Ohio came and went last year. Hartman was the third inmate to be put to death by the state since it was lifted.
Ohio had halted executions after an executioner jabbed another inmate with an IV needle 18 times during the lethal injection process.
When the U.S. Supreme Court denied Hartman’s final appeal Monday for more DNA testing, and all other paths to exoneration had been exhausted, Hartman told the Akron Beacon Journal in a final phone interview to say he was relieved to finally know what would happen to him.
“It’s the road I got to walk,” he told the paper. “It’s my time. It’s hard, especially for my family. But it’s not overwhelming for me. I’ve just never had any luck.”
He added, “I’m tired of fighting and no one listening. I’m tired of begging for money [and tired] of prison. So, there’s some relief.”
As he prepared to die Tuesday, he reportedly flashed a smile and a thumbs-up at his sister, Diane Morretti, who did not respond to a request for comment. In a statement to reporters, Hartman’s family decried his conviction and asked for more evidence testing.
Winda Snipes’ family and friends have been long eager to see an end to the case.
"He's very, very, very guilty," Jacqueline Brown of Doylestown, Ohio, a friend of Snipes’, told the Associated Press after the execution. "Now Winda can be at peace, and that's what it's all about."