Former Texas Deputy Convicted for Killing Paraplegic Girlfriend, Then Making Death Look Like Suicide

Leslie Hartman and Jay Rotter
Leslie Hartman and Jay Rotter. Twitter

A former Texas deputy sheriff accused of killing his paraplegic girlfriend and claiming it was a suicide was convicted of murder earlier this week and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The Denton County Criminal District Attorney's Office said that a jury found Jay Rotter, 39, guilty on Tuesday and sentenced him the following day in the murder of Leslie Hartman, 46, on August 20, 2020.

Rotter Told Cops Hartman Shot Herself Using His Service Weapon

Rotter, who worked for the Tarrant County Sheriff's Office at the time, called police and told them Hartman shot herself in the head, using his service weapon, while they were embracing. He told detectives he "would have stopped her if he could have."

Hartman was found dead at the scene, and detectives later determined that Rotter and his girlfriend were the only two people in the residence when she was killed.

However, investigators uncovered evidence implicating Rotter in the death. When they brought him in for questioning, he initially refused to hand over his cell phone and then reset it to factory setting when he was alone in the room.

'I Just Sent a 9 Millie in This F---ing Hippie'

On his phone, detectives found chat messages on the app Discord from the night of Hartman's death — posted before he called police to report her "suicide."

"I TOLD HER. LISTEN. ONE SHOT ONLY. THEY CALL IT IN AFTER AND THEY CAN," he reportedly wrote in a message that was never sent but later recovered from his message drafts. "I just sent a 9 millie in this f—— hippie," he wrote at 11:14 p.m. alongside a photo of himself holding the pistol. Rotter's defense later claimed the message was for a milk carton he had shot in the backyard.

Before her death, at 10:32 p.m., Hartman sent a text message to a friend that also seemed to incriminate Rotter, the Express reported. She reportedly wrote that Rotter, who had been living with her for about six months, was "in a mood." She also indicated that Rotter had been using drugs and was "falling around the house."

Neighbors said that Hartman, a beloved artist, was happy and had not appeared suicidal. In fact, one neighbor said, she had just adopted a new puppy. Hartman told Wood she was involved in an automobile accident when she was younger and had since used a wheelchair for transportation

The deputy worked for the Tarrant County Sheriff's Office from 2005 until he was fired in 2020, assigned to the narcotics division, an official with the sheriff's office said at the time.