HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A Texas woman convicted of the gruesome slaying and robbery of her neighbor, a retired 71-year-old college psychology professor, is set to be the first woman put to death in the United States since 2010.
A Dallas County jury already found former nursing home therapist Kimberly McCarthy guilty of the 1997 killing when evidence at the punishment phase of her trial tied her to two similar murders a decade earlier.
"Once the jury heard about those other two, we were certainly in a deep hole," recalled McCarthy's lead trial attorney, Doug Parks. Jurors decided McCarthy should die.
Her execution, set for Tuesday evening, would be the first since a Virginia inmate, Teresa Lewis, became the 12th woman put to death since the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976 allowed capital punishment to resume. In that same time, 1,309 men have been executed.
Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics compiled from 1980 through 2008 show women make up about 10 percent of homicide offenders nationwide. According to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, 3,146 people were on the nation's death rows as of last Oct. 1, and only 63 — 2 percent — were women.
The 51-year-old McCarthy also would be the first woman executed in Texas in more than eight years and the fourth overall in the state, which executes the most people in the nation — 492 prisoners since capital punishment resumed 30 years ago.
McCarthy, who is black, was condemned for the July 1997 killing of neighbor Dorothy Booth in Lancaster, about 15 miles south of Dallas. All but one of McCarthy's jurors were white.
McCarthy exhausted her court appeals, as the U.S. Supreme Court three weeks ago declined to review her case and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles last week turned down a clemency petition. On Friday, her attorneys asked Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins to delay the lethal injection, citing his interest in Texas adopting a law to allow death-row prisoners to base appeals on race. Watkins has not responded.
"It certainly doesn't make me happy," Parks said. "It's a fact of life. ... The reality is, with some exceptions, they're going to execute your client."
Evidence showed McCarthy phoned Booth to borrow a cup of sugar, then attacked Booth when she went to retrieve it. Booth was stabbed with a butcher knife, beaten with a large candle holder and robbed of a diamond wedding ring.
"(McCarthy) quite literally took the woman, put her left hand on a chopping block of the kitchen and then used a knife to sever her ring finger while she was still alive," said Greg Davis, the former Dallas County assistant district attorney who prosecuted McCarthy. "She took the ring from the finger that had been severed and continued the attack until she finally killed her."
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