U.S. set to execute first woman in more than two years

AUSTIN, Texas Tue Jan 29, 2013 6:11am EST

Kimberly McCarthy is shown in this undated Texas Department of Criminal Justice photograph. Kimberly McCarthy is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on January 29, 2013, the first woman to be put to death in more than two years, for the stabbing murder of her neighbor in 1997. REUTERS/Texas Department of Criminal Justice/Handout

Kimberly McCarthy is shown in this undated Texas Department of Criminal Justice photograph. Kimberly McCarthy is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on January 29, 2013, the first woman to be put to death in more than two years, for the stabbing murder of her neighbor in 1997.

Credit: Reuters/Texas Department of Criminal Justice/Handout

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AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas is set to execute Kimberly McCarthy by lethal injection on Tuesday, the first woman to be put to death in the United States in more than two years.

The execution is scheduled to be carried out at the state prison in Huntsville, Texas after 6 p.m. local time.

Women are rarely executed in the United States. Only 12 female inmates were put to death since capital punishment was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

The last woman executed was Teresa Lewis in Virginia on September 23, 2010, the information center said.

"Although women commit about 10 percent of murders, capital cases also require some aggravating factor like rape, robbery, or physical abuse," said Richard Dieter, executive director of the information center, adding that women usually have not committed a long list of prior felonies.

"It's unclear whether jurors or prosecutors may be more lenient in potential prosecutions of women, since there are relatively few," said Dieter.

McCarthy, 51, was convicted of entering the Lancaster, Texas home of her 71-year-old neighbor, Dorothy Booth, on July 21, 1997, under the pretense of borrowing some sugar. She then stabbed Booth five times, according to the Texas attorney general's summary of the case.

She also cut off Booth's left ring finger in order to take her diamond ring, which she later pawned.

McCarthy also was believed to be responsible for the murders of two other elderly women, one using a meat tenderizer as a weapon and another using a claw hammer, according to the Attorney General's summary.

McCarthy was found guilty in 1998 by a Dallas County jury of murdering Booth and sentenced to death. Her conviction was overturned by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 2001 because no attorney was present when she was questioned after the crime even though she had requested a lawyer, court documents show. She was tried a second time in 2002, was again found guilty by a Dallas County jury, and again sentenced to death.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 2004 agreed with the second conviction.

McCarthy would be the second person executed in the United States so far this year. Forty-three inmates were put to death in 2012.

(Reporting by Corrie MacLaggan; Writing by Greg McCune)

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Comments (8)
roneida wrote:
Equal opportunity under the law…

Jan 29, 2013 8:16am EST  --  Report as abuse
BlueOkie wrote:
Big story right? Where’s the big story on women in combat. Don’t they think they’ll be killed as well?

Jan 29, 2013 11:39am EST  --  Report as abuse
ofilha wrote:
Good riddance.

Jan 29, 2013 12:09pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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