Woman set to be executed in Texas for 1998 killing

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Associated Press

Posted on February 5, 2014 at 6:36 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 5 at 6:36 PM

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A woman convicted of torturing and killing a mentally impaired man she lured to Texas with the promise of marriage was scheduled to be executed Wednesday in a rare case of a female death-row inmate.

If 59-year-old Suzanne Basso is lethally injected as scheduled, she would be only the 14th woman executed in the U.S. since the Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976. By comparison, almost 1,400 men have been put to death.

Texas, America's busiest death-penalty state, has executed four women and 505 men.

Basso was sentenced to death for the 1998 slaying of 59-year-old Louis "Buddy" Musso, whose battered and lacerated body, washed with bleach and scoured with a wire brush, was found in a ditch outside Houston. Prosecutors said Basso had made herself the beneficiary of Musso's insurance policies and took over his Social Security benefits after luring him from New Jersey.

The Supreme Court refused to halt the execution Wednesday, about an hour before Basso could be taken to the Texas death chamber.

Basso's attorney, Winston Cochran Jr., had asked that the lower court's finding that Basso was mentally competent to face execution be overturned. He argued that Basso suffered from delusions and that the state law governing competency was unconstitutionally flawed.

A state judge ruled last month that Basso had a history of fabricating stories about herself, seeking attention and manipulating psychological tests.

Leading up to her trial, Basso's court appearances were marked by claims of blindness and paralysis, and speech mimicking a little girl.

"It was challenging, but I saw her for who she was," said Colleen Barnett, the former Harris County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Basso. "I was determined I was not going to let her get away with it."

Basso is among about 60 women currently on death row in the U.S., making up about 2 percent of the 3,100 condemned inmates.

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