Texas executes 500th inmate

Prisoner was first female to be killed in almost three years.
Associated Press
Jun 27, 2013

 

Texas marked a solemn moment in criminal justice Wednesday evening, executing its 500th inmate since it resumed carrying out capital punishment in 1982.

Kimberly McCarthy, who was put to death for the murder of her 71-year-old neighbor, was also the first woman executed in the U.S. in nearly three years.

McCarthy, 52, was executed for the 1997 robbery, beating and fatal stabbing of retired college psychology professor Dorothy Booth. Booth had agreed to give McCarthy a cup of sugar before she was attacked with a butcher knife and candelabra at her home in Lancaster, about 15 miles south of Dallas. Authorities say McCarthy cut off Booth's finger to remove her wedding ring.

It was among three slayings linked to McCarthy, a former nursing home therapist who became addicted to crack cocaine.

She was pronounced dead at 6:37 p.m. CDT, 20 minutes after Texas prison officials began administering a single lethal dose of pentobarbital.

In her final statement, McCarthy did not mention her status as the 500th inmate to be executed or acknowledge Booth or her family.

"This is not a loss. This is a win. You know where I'm going. I'm going home to be with Jesus. Keep the faith. I love you all," she said, while looking toward her witnesses — her attorney, her spiritual adviser and her ex-husband, New Black Panther Party founder Aaron Michaels.

As the drug started to take effect, McCarthy said, "God is great," before closing her eyes. She took hard, raspy, loud breaths for several seconds before becoming quiet. Then, her chest moved up and down for another minute before she stopped breathing.

Friends and family of Booth told reporters after the execution that they were not conscious that Texas had carried out its 500th execution since 1982. They said their only focus was on Booth's brutal murder.

Five-hundred is "just a number. It doesn't really mean very much," said Randall Browning, who was Booth's godson. "'We're just thinking about the justice that was promised to us by the state of Texas."

Donna Aldred, Booth's daughter, reading a statement to reporters, said that her mother "was an incredible person who was taken before her time."

Texas has carried out nearly 40 percent of the more than 1,300 executions in the U.S. since the Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976. The state's standing stems from its size as the nation's second-most populous state as well as its tradition of tough justice for killers.

Texas prison officials said that for them, it was just another execution. "We simply carried out the court's order," said Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark.

With increased debate in recent years over wrongful convictions, some states have halted the practice entirely. However, 32 states have the death penalty on the books. Though Texas still carries out executions, lawmakers have provided more sentencing options for juries and courts have narrowed the cases for which death can be sought.

In a statement, Maurie Levin, McCarthy's attorney, said "500 is 500 too many. I look forward to the day when we recognize that this pointless and barbaric practice, imposed almost exclusively on those who are poor and disproportionately on people of color, has no place in a civilized society."

Outside the prison, about 40 protesters gathered, carrying signs saying "Death Penalty: Racist and Anti-Poor," ''Stop All Executions Now" and "Stop Killing to Stop Killings." As the hour for the execution approached, protesters began chanting and sang the old Negro spiritual "Wade in the Water."

In recent years, Texas executions have generally drawn fewer than 10 protesters. A handful of counter-demonstrators who support the death penalty gathered in another area outside the prison Wednesday.

Executions of women are infrequent. McCarthy was the 13th woman put to death in the U.S. and the fourth in Texas, the nation's busiest death penalty state, since the Supreme Court in 1976 allowed capital punishment to resume. In that same period, more than 1,300 male inmates have been executed nationwide, 496 of them in Texas. Virginia is a distant second, nearly 400 executions behind.

Levin, had asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to halt the punishment, arguing black jurors were improperly excluded from McCarthy's trial by Dallas County prosecutors. McCarthy is black; her victim white. All but one of her 12 jurors were white. The court denied McCarthy's appeals, ruling her claims should have been raised previously.

Prosecutors said McCarthy stole Booth's Mercedes and drove to Dallas, pawned the woman's wedding ring she removed from the severed finger for $200 and went to a crack house to buy cocaine. Evidence also showed she used Booth's credit cards at a liquor store.

McCarthy blamed the crime on two drug dealers, but there was no evidence either existed.

Her ex-husband, Michaels, testified on her behalf. They had separated before Booth's slaying.

DNA evidence also tied McCarthy to the December 1988 slayings of 81-year-old Maggie Harding and 85-year-old Jettie Lucas. Harding was stabbed and beaten with a meat tenderizer, while Lucas was beaten with both sides of a claw hammer and stabbed.

McCarthy, who denied any involvement in the attacks, was indicted but not tried for those slayings.

In January, McCarthy was just hours away from being put to death when a Dallas judge delayed her execution.

McCarthy was the eighth Texas prisoner executed this year. She was among 10 women on death row in Texas, but the only one with an execution date. Seven male Texas prisoners have executions scheduled in the coming months.

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Follow Juan A. Lozano at http://www.twitter.com/juanlozano70.

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Associated Press videographer John L. Mone contributed to this report

 

Comments

BULLISDEEP's picture
BULLISDEEP

Ohio needs to catch up .

UJagoff

31 years is way to long to pay for her to sit in prison! Especially when u have DNA evidence.

so.....

Agreed. She got 31 more years than she deserved.

sandtown born a...

Ohio should start with the 2 baby killers we have in the county at the moment EXECUTE both of them. Those two aren't doing anything but wasting good oxygen!!!!

JohnDorian12

I agree with you 100%!!! These two "animals" should have no defense....I just wonder how these attorneys sleep at night and how they would feel if the baby's the murdered were theirs?!?! To the protesters who say the death penalty is racist.....I say stop wasting our time, plain and simple if you kill someone expect to be killed back!!'

bondgirlM

double AMEN

HAOLEGIRL

Just curious, how did you come up with 31 years? She killed her neighbor in 1997... Her DNA ties her to two murders in 1988 but she was never tried for those.

meowmix

Wow--Texas loves to kill the living but tries like hell to prevent women from having a choice in regards to pregnancy. Idiots.

The General

Only an IDIOT such as yourself would compare an unborn child to a piece of sh****tt

bondgirlM

exactly. How can anyone liken an innocent unborn baby to a evil murderer?

rezzy

Simple meowmix! Governor Perry implemented the mandatory birth control method to save young girls from cervical cancer caused by the virus HVP. The vaccination is proven to prevent the spread of HVP, but for stories sake, we'll let you run with it. Texas is no more guilty of taking lives of young girls than Obama is guilty of gays having legal marriage and transmitting HIV. Besides, if you survey the families of the folks the murderers killed, they would be just fine with execution.

BlueAngel

It is sickening they had to "account for how the drip started and how her breathing became"... how distasteful...

The Answer Person

MORE! WE NEED MORE!

The General

I love Texas!....Boo-ya!

queenjhb

Ohio, please catch up w/ Texas.

KURTje

Sweet! Let's liquidate all upper third tier criminals nation-wide. Next a flat tax. Then......see the are solutions - not problems.

44846GWP

If any of you had to do the killing, bet you would think twice. Easy to say, not so easy to do. Anyone who enjoys doing executions has his own issues!