Justen Hall, Texas

 

Updated: Monday, October 14, 2019

Justen Grant Hall is scheduled to be executed at 6 pm local time, on Wednesday, November 6, 2019, at the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Thirty-eight-year-old Justen is convicted of the murder of 29-year-old Melanie Ruth Billhartz on October 28, 2002, in El Paso County, Texas. Justen has been on death row in Texas for the last 14 years.

Justen was born in Texas. He dropped out of school after the 9th grade and worked as a labor prior to being arrested. He had previously served time in Texas for burglary and auto theft.

In 2002, Justen Hall was at the residence of Chase Hale, which was a known drug house for cooking methamphetamine. Ted Murgatroyd was also at the residence and his girlfriend, Melanie Billhartz arrived a short time later. She was upset with Murgatroyd due to an argument the two had previously had. Melanie threatened to go to the police and report Murgatroyd for assault. The three men, plus a fourth, discussed how to handle the Melanie, with Hale suggesting she be killed.

Hall left Hale’s residence with Billhartz in her truck. Hall later returned with Billhartz dead in the truck. An autopsy later revealed that she had been strangled to death using a power cord. With Murgatroyd’s help, Hall cut off her fingers with a machete, and buried Melanie in the desert.

After being questioned about Melanie’s disappearance, Murgatroyd led police to her body. Hall was arrested later that day, driving Melanie’s truck. Murgatroyd and the fourth man who was at the Hale residence both told police that Hall committed the murder. Hall, at first, denied participating in the murder. He later confessed.

 

At the time of Melanie’s murder, Hall was out on bail for allegedly shooting 28-year-old Arturo Diaz in the back on April 10, 2002. That crime was classified as a hate crime based on Arturo’s sexual orientation.

 

Hall was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Melanie. For several years after his conviction, Hall asked that his appeals be dropped and his execution allowed to proceed. Then his attorney began seeking DNA testing on the cord used to strangle Melanie, and suggested that Hall’s confession was coerced. But in 2016, Hall, once again, sought to waive his appeals, by sending a letter to the court expressing that wish.

 

Please pray for peace and healing for the families of the Melanie and Arturo. Please pray for strength for the family of Justen Hall. Pray that if Justen is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed, or should not be executed for any other reason, that evidence will be provided prior to his execution. Pray that Justen may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

  

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