Reprieve for Texas Woman on Death Row
The first woman scheduled to be executed in the U.S. since 2010 won a reprieve Tuesday, mere hours before she was scheduled to be taken to the Texas death chamber. The Asssociated Press reports State District Judge Larry Mitchell, in Dallas, rescheduled Kimberly McCarthy's punishment for April 3 so lawyers for the former nursing home therapist could have more time to pursue an appeal focused on whether her predominantly white jury was improperly selected on the basis of race. McCarthy is black.
Dallas County prosecutors, who initially contested the motion to reschedule, chose to not appeal the ruling.
The 51-year-old McCarthy was convicted and sent to death row for the 1997 stabbing, beating and robbery of a 71-year-old neighbor. She learned of the reprieve less than five hours before she was scheduled for lethal injection, already in a small holding cell a few feet from the death chamber at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Huntsville Unit. McCarthy, a former crack-cocaine addict, was also connected through DNA evidence to (but never indicted for) the murders of 81-year-old Maggie Harding and 85-year-old Jettie Lucas in December 1988.
The brutality of the attack likely played into McCarthy's receiving a death sentence. The former Dallas County assistant district attorney Greg Davis had this to say last week regarding McCarthy's fate: "I remember the pain and agony that poor woman lived through before McCarthy delivered the final stab wounds. ... She took the most defenseless, the most helpless people, people that trusted her, that she chose to attack."
McCarthy's attorney, Doug Parks, said that her drug use led to her attacking these people: "I think when she's off dope she's probably a pretty good person. I believe now, as I did then, that in the penitentiary, Kim w
ould be absolutely no danger to anyone."
Twelve women have been executed in the U.S. since 1976, when the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment. During that time, 1,300 men have been put to death. Just 2 percent of all inmates on death row across the country as of October 1, 2012, were women.