ETX man back on death row after escaping execution in 2003

Published: Apr. 9, 2014 at 2:03 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 8, 2014 at 2:03 AM CDT
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TYLER, TX (KLTV) - An East Texas man who escaped execution 11 years ago is back on death row.

57-year-old Robert Ladd is awaiting the death penalty for murdering 38-year-old Vicki Ann Garner inside her Tyler apartment in 1996. He is accused of beating garner with a hammer then setting her body on fire.

Ladd was set to be executed in 2003, but was granted a stay by claiming he was mentally impaired. A Federal Appeals court rejected that claim on Tuesday.

Garner's family says they just want to see justice served for Vicki.

"We remember her every holiday, every family event. She's a big part of our lives and she always will be," says Teresa Wooten, Vicki's sister.

Pictures and memories give Wooten strength. That strength was tested 11 years ago when Vicki's convicted killer got a second chance at life.

"In 2003 I was driving my mom and dad to Huntsville when we got the phone call from the D.A.'s office that he had received a stay," Wooten says.

Robert Ladd's execution was called off. Instead of heading to Huntsville, the Garner's game to KLTV for an emotional interview.

"I thought today was going to end it all and I got a little mad," said Gene Garner, Vicki's dad.

"I don't think that we'll ever find closure," said Wooten.

Vicki's family continued to fight. Now, her sister's are moving forward alone.

"Neither one of my parents actually saw justice for their daughter and that's really a hard pill to swallow for me," says Wooten, " My mom and dad forgave him. They both forgave him, but forgiving did not mean they didn't want to see justice."

Ladd wrote apology letters to Vicki's family before his first execution date in 2003.

"Please know that I am more sorry than I can put into words," read Vicki's father.

Wooten doesn't believe in closure, but hopes to gain the peace her parents had, "Maybe one day. I wish I could, but right now I can't."

She says her journey for justice is far from over, but there is an end in sight.

Ladd pleaded guilty to murdering three people in Dallas in 1978. He served 13 years in prison and was on parole when Vicki Garner was murdered.

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