An El Paso man who confessed to strangling a woman with an electrical cord nearly two decades ago is set to be put to death Wednesday evening at the Huntsville “Walls” Unit.

Justen Grant Hall, 38, has been on death row for nearly 15 years for a murder stemming from a fight outside drug house in El Paso on Oct. 28, 2002.

According to court documents, the murder happened after Melissa Billhartz got in a fight with a man she knew, with the dispute escalating into an assault. Afterward, Billhartz said she wanted to call police - and Hall and his friends became worried, fearing authorities would discover the meth house.

Hall left and a few hours later showed back up at the house with the woman’s body in the back of a truck. A medical examiner’s investigation revealed that Billhartz was killed when a power cord was wrapped tightly around her neck three times.

The examiner’s report went on to say that the victim had fractured nasal bones, multiple fractures to her lower jaw bone, fractures in her right hand, a fractured rib and fingers missing from her right hand.

Hall was convicted of the murder in Feb. 2005. TDCJ records show that Hall previously served a two-year sentence for a home burglary in El Paso.

In 2016 Hall asked to waive his appeals.

“These walls 24/7 have broken me,” he wrote. “It is taking every last ounce of will to even make it from day to day.”

The following year, he told a judge he was guilty and ready to die, assuring the court he was mentally competent to make that decision.

If carried out, Hall would be the 19th inmate to be executed in the United States in 2019 and eighth from Texas. 

Recommended for you