HUNTSVILLE, Texas — The execution Tuesday of a Texas woman convicted in the gruesome murder of her 71-year-old neighbor will mark the first time in three years that a female inmate has been put to death in the U.S.
Kimberly McCarthy, 51, was sentenced to death for the 1997 robbery, beating and fatal stabbing of retired college psychology professor Dorothy Booth. Investigators say Booth had agreed to give McCarthy a cup of sugar before she was attacked with a butcher knife at her home in Lancaster, about 15 miles south of Dallas.
It was among three slayings linked to McCarthy, a former nursing home therapist who’d been addicted to crack cocaine. Her lethal injection is scheduled for Tuesday evening.
McCarthy will be the 13th woman executed in the U.S. and the fourth in Texas, the nation’s busiest death penalty state, since the Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976. In that same time period, more than 1,300 male inmates have been executed nationwide.
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.
In a final legal effort to spare her life, McCarthy’s lawyers asked Gov. Rick Perry on Monday to use his executive authority to issue a 30-day reprieve. They also appealed to Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins to withdraw or modify the execution date, citing his support that Texas adopt a law allowing death-row inmates to appeal on racial grounds. McCarthy is black, while all but one of her 12 Dallas County jurors were white.
The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month refused to review her case, and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles turned down a clemency request Friday.
Her lead attorney, Doug Parks, said drug use was McCarthy’s downfall.
“I think when she’s off dope she’s probably a pretty good person,” he said. “I believe now, as I did then, that in the penitentiary, Kim would be absolutely no danger to anyone.”
McCarthy declined to speak with reporters as her execution date neared.
Evidence showed that McCarthy called Booth to borrow a cup of sugar. When she came to pick it up, McCarthy attacked Booth, including forcing the woman’s hand to a chopping block so she could cut off her finger to remove her wedding ring.
“I remember the pain and agony that poor woman lived through before McCarthy delivered the final stab wounds,” former Dallas County assistant district attorney Greg Davis recalled last week.