First Woman to Be Executed Since 2005

First Woman to Be Executed Since 2005

On Jan. 29 the state is scheduled to carry out its 493rd execution since reinstatement of the death penalty, the first of eight already scheduled for 2013. Kimberly Lagayle McCarthy would be the first woman executed in Texas since 2005.

McCarthy, previously married to New Black Panther Party founder Aaron Michaels, was convicted and sentenced to die for the 1997 robbery and stabbing murder of her neighbor, 71-year-old retired college professor Dorothy Booth. According to the state, McCarthy had a crack cocaine problem and used a ploy – a request to borrow sugar – to gain entrance to Booth's home. Once inside, the state says, she immediately attacked Booth, stabbing her five times and cutting off her finger so she could steal Booth's ring. McCarthy also took Booth's car and credit cards and stole several other items from the home, all of which she pawned off for drugs, she told police.

McCarthy's original 1998 conviction was overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeals, which ruled that the trial court violated McCarthy's due process and right against self-incrimination by admitting into evidence a statement McCarthy made to police after she had "unambiguously invoked her right to legal counsel," according to a July 2012 opinion from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. McCarthy was retried and again sentenced to die. Although the act of committing a murder in the course of robbery is what made McCarthy's a death-eligible case, it seems likely that her jury may have been more inclined to invoke the ultimate punishment after prosecutors offered evidence during the punishment phase of McCarthy's trial that she may have been responsible for the murders of two other elderly women, an 81-year-old and an 85-year-old, a decade before, also in an effort to find money for drugs. Whether McCarthy did actually committed those murders remains an open question; she has never been tried for either crime.

McCarthy's last federal appeal was denied in July 2012, and a writ of certiorari filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to block her execution, was denied in the second week of January. Still, C. Wayne Huff, one of McCarthy's attorneys, says there remain a "couple" avenues that attorneys are exploring to try to stop the execution, though he declined to reveal details.

McCarthy would be the 253rd inmate executed under Gov. Rick Perry, and only the fifth woman, and the third black woman, to be executed in Texas since 1854.

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