Texas Sheriff's Deputy Charged in Death of Girlfriend He Claimed Shot Herself as They Hugged, Police Say

Jay Allen Rotter, a 36-year-old Tarrant County Sheriff's Department Deputy, called 911 to report that his girlfriend shot herself in the head with his gun as they hugged.
Denton County Jail; Facebook

A longtime Texas sheriff's deputy, who also worked as an undercover narcotics officer, has been arrested and charged with the murder of his girlfriend and for tampering with evidence after he told police she killed herself as they hugged each other, authorities said. Jay Allen Rotter, a 36-year-old Tarrant County Sheriff's Department Deputy, called 911 to report that his girlfriend, Leslie Lynn Hartman, shot herself in the head with his gun as they hugged, authorities said.

On Monday, nearly three weeks after the shooting, police said it was no suicide and Hartman’s boyfriend was arrested and charged with murder and tampering with evidence, reported NBC 5.

On Aug. 26, officers from the Denton Police Department responding to a call regarding a shooting found the body of a deceased woman lying next to a wheelchair on the floor. The woman was later identified as 46-year-old Hartman.

Denton police said on Monday that “detectives executed search warrants and analyzed physical evidence” that led them to Rotter. 

Officials said In an affidavit obtained by the news station that Rotter, who appeared upset, told the 911 operator that “he and his girlfriend were hugging when the shot was fired.” He told the operator that “he would have stopped it if he could have.”

The affidavit reportedly included mention of text messages between Hartman and Rotter, where she suggested he was in a “mood” and “would need to sort himself out tonight due to the fact that Rotter is having trouble with the amount of drugs he was consuming.”

NBC 5 reported that a computer recovered from the couple's bedroom indicated that Rotter had participated in a chatroom using software called Discord that showed recorded comments allegedly from Rotter, including one that read: “went to the back yard and I killed that milk bomb.” 

Investigators reportedly said the messages coincided with the security cam footage from a neighbor where a gunshot was heard. Other evidence found include shell casings in the back yard that matched the one found in the bedroom and a bottle of organic milk in the trash with an entrance and exit hole in the container, NBC 5 reported.

The chat record showed the couple was arguing over Rotter firing the gun in the backyard at 11:14 p.m., the affidavit reportedly said. A minute later, detectives said an additional message was recorded. “I just sent a 9 millie in this f***** hippie,” it said. 

Police said they also found a photo Rotter allegedly posted of himself holding a Glock pistol that was apparently taken in the bedroom on the day of the shooting. Neighbors described Hartman as an upbeat, artistic, outgoing person, who was very independent, despite being unable to walk, due to a car accident she had a few years ago. They said that she loved animals and had recently adopted a new puppy.

Rotter, who had been employed with the TCSO since 2005, was taken into custody on a warrant for murder and tampering with evidence.

The Tarrant County Sheriff’s office issued a statement by Sheriff Bill E. Waybourn that read: “We are shocked and saddened about the incident and arrest of Jay Rotter. We have very little information regarding the situation at his time. We believe in the criminal justice process and the truth will prevail. The Denton Police Department is the arresting agency and the investigation is ongoing.” 

Rotter is being held in the Denton County Jail on $1.1 million bond, reported NBC 5. 

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