Kimberly McCarthy (52) was executed by lethal injection in Huntsville, Texas, on Wednesday, making her the 500th inmate put to death in the state since capital punishment was reinstituted in 1982, and the first woman executed in the U.S. for nearly three years.
Sentenced to death for the 1997 killing of Dorothy Booth (71), a retired college psychology professor, Ms. McCarthy’s legal appeals ran out on Tuesday; she had received two stays on execution this year.
Eyewitness reports of the execution quoted Ms. McCarthy’s final words: “This is not a loss, this is a win. You know where I am going. I am going home to be with JesusThe process that led to her execution this week was not without controversy. Ms. McCarthy’s attorney, Maurie Levin, said that her client’s case had been “plagued by shameful errors of racial bias during jury selection by Dallas County prosecutors and ineffective assistance of counsel”.
While Ms. McCarthy was African-American, the victim, Ms. Booth was white. According to reports Ms. Levin said the Texas courts’ refusal to examine Ms. McCarthy’s last-minute appeals this week about those issues “reflect problems that are central to the administration of the death penalty as a whole”.
Only one of the 12 jurors at Ms. McCarthy’s 2002 retrial was African-American, Ms. Levin said.
U.S. correctional institutes’ use of the lethal injection has also come under the spotlight in recent years, especially after legal cases were filed arguing that the execution method constituted “cruel and unusual punishment.”