This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
UPDATE: Kimberly McCarthy has been granted a reprieve until April. State District Judge Larry Mitchell rescheduled her execution April 3 to give her attorneys could have more time to pursue an appeal focused on whether her predominantly white jury was improperly selected on the basis of race. The Associated Press has more details here.
Executions are not unusual in Texas, the state that has carried out 492 executions since the death penalty was reinstated there. However, tonight’s scheduled execution stands out even in Texas.
The inmate scheduled to die, Kimberly L. McCarthy, is a woman and barring any stays, she will be only the fifth woman to be put to death in the Lone Star State since 1854 and the 13th to be executed nationwide in the past 40 years. The last time a woman was executed was the lethal injection of Teresa Lewis in Virginia on Sept. 23, 2010. The last time a woman was executed in Texas was in 2005.
McCarthy, who was previously married to New Black Panther Party founder Aaron Michaels, is one of only 10 women on death row in Texas.
McCarthy was sentenced to death for the fatal stabbing and bludgeoning of her 71-year-old neighbor, Dorothy Booth. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas described the crime as follows:
“On July 21, 1997 McCarthy entered the home of her 71-year-old neighbor Dorothy Booth under the pretense of borrowing some sugar and then stabbed Mrs. Booth five times, hit her in the face with a candelabrum, cut off her left ring finger in order to take her diamond ring, and nearly severed her left little finger as well. McCarthy then took Mrs. Booth’s purse and its contents, along with her wedding ring and fled in her car. Later, McCarthy bought drugs with the stolen money, used the stolen credit cards, and pawned the stolen wedding ring.”
According to the state, the crime was fueled by drugs, as McCarthy had a crack cocaine problem and needed money to buy more. Prosecutors say McCarthy entered the home under the pretense of asking to borrow some sugar. On Nov. 17, 1998, a Dallas County jury found McCarthy guilty of capital murder and after a separate punishment hearing, she was sentenced to death.
According to the Austin Chronicle, “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 on Jan. 7, the U.S. Supreme Court declined, without comment, to review McCarthy’s case, clearing the way for the execution to proceed. But one of her attorneys told the Austin Chronicle that they were still exploring other avenues of trying to block the execution.
If the execution proceeds, it will be the 2nd of 2013 and the first of eight already scheduled in Texas for 2013.
If you’re interested in following tonight’s execution, the radio show Execution Watch will be broadcasting from outside the prison starting at 6 p.m. CT. You can listen online as well.