Plano, Texas – A former sheriff’s deputy has been convicted of murder after fatally shooting his special-needs girlfriend and attempting to stage her death as a suicide.
On Tuesday, a jury in Denton County found Jay A. Rotter guilty of the 2020 killing of Leslie Hartman. Rotter, a former deputy with the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office, shot Hartman in the temple with his service weapon. He was sentenced to 30 years in a state correctional facility.
The Denton Police Department had received a 911 call from Rotter in August 2020, reporting a self-inflicted gunshot wound by Hartman. However, investigators found evidence pointing to Rotter as the perpetrator.
Hartman, a well-known local artist, relied on a wheelchair due to injuries sustained in a car accident years prior. Rotter and Hartman were the only individuals present at the home at the time of the fatal shooting. Rotter was taken into custody about a month after the incident and subsequently charged with murder.
Court documents revealed compelling evidence found on Rotter’s cellphone, including messages on the Discord app that were transcribed at the same time as the murder. The investigation also uncovered several photos of Rotter holding his service weapon, sent to various contacts on Discord.
Before her death, Hartman sent a text message to a friend expressing concerns about Rotter’s behavior that evening. She mentioned that Rotter was in a volatile mood and had possibly been using drugs. During the trial, Rotter’s defense team claimed that the messages he wrote were referring to shooting a milk bottle in the backyard, while denying any prior history of domestic violence.
Rotter, who had served as a deputy since 2005 and was a detective in the narcotics unit before his dismissal in 2020, will now face several decades behind bars for his actions. The jury took only three hours to reach a conviction.