HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — Texas was preparing Tuesday night to execute the first woman in three years in the United States.
Kimberly McCarthy, 51, 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.
McCarthy was sentenced to death for the 1997 robbery, beating and fatal stabbing of her 71-year-old neighbor, 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.
The killing was among three linked to McCarthy, a former nursing home therapist who'd been addicted to crack cocaine.
She was set to face lethal injection Tuesday evening after the Supreme Court earlier this month refused to review her case.
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've also asked that Texas adopt a law allowing death-row inmates to appeal on racial grounds. McCarthy is black, while all but one of her 12 jurors were white.
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," Parkssaid. "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.
Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics compiled from 1980 through 2008 show women make up about 10 percent of homicide offenders nationwide. According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People 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.
McCarthy was tried twice for Booth's slaying, most recently in 2002. Her first conviction in 1998 was thrown out three years later by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which ruled police violated her rights by using a statement she made to them after asking for a lawyer.
McCarthy is among 10 women on death row in Texas, but the only one with an execution date.
In 1998, Karla Faye Tucker, 38, became the first woman executed in Texas since the Civil War in the 1860s for a robbery where two people were killed with a pickax. Two years later, a 62-year-old great-grandmother, Betty Lou Beets, received a lethal injection for the slaying of her fifth husband to collect insurance and pension benefits. And in 2004, Frances Newton, 40, was executed for the 1987 slayings of her husband and two children.
At least eight male Texas prisoners have executions scheduled in the coming months.
Associated Press writer Michael Graczyk contributed.