Kimberly McCarthy was executed on June 26, 2013 by the State of Texas. The African American woman faced death at the hands of the racist state., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
By JENNIFER EMILY Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated: 26 June 2013 09:55 PM
HUNTSVILLE — Kimberly McCarthy’s death by lethal injection Wednesday marked Texas’ 500th modern execution — reaching that milestone well ahead of other states that allow capital punishment.
McCarthy, 52, was executed for the 1997 murder of a 71-year-old retired college professor, who was her neighbor in Lancaster. McCarthy used the pretense of borrowing sugar to enter Dorothy Booth’s home and stabbed Booth during a robbery to fuel her crack-cocaine habit. She severed Booth’s finger while she was still alive.
Traces of Booth’s blood were found in McCarthy’s home.
McCarthy was also indicted but never tried in the 1988 deaths of two other elderly women.
As the drugs surged through McCarthy’s body Wednesday evening, she looked toward the window of the room that held her supporters, including her ex-husband, and thanked them. She looked at the window where Booth’s daughter and granddaughter and friends stood but did not address them.
“This is not a loss, this is a win. You know where I am going,” McCarthy said as she lay strapped to a metal gurney inside the death chamber with mint green walls. “I am going home to be with Jesus.”
Then she smiled and began to snore. Her chest briefly moved up and down rapidly.
She lost consciousness, and Booth’s family nodded in approval. McCarthy was declared dead at 6:37 p.m. — 20 minutes after she was given the lethal dose.
“Thank you,” Booth’s godson Randy Browning said as he stood at the window and looked back at Greg Davis, the man who prosecuted McCarthy.
Booth’s granddaughter, Leslie Lambert, cried as she stood at the window, clutching paper towels.
A doctor checked McCarthy’s vital signs.
Finding none, he pulled a white sheet over her head. Only then did a prison chaplain remove his right hand from McCarthy’s left leg as he held a small copy of the New Testament in his left hand.
Afterward, Booth’s daughter, Donna Aldred, read a statement thanking prosecutors and investigators for their efforts that led to McCarthy’s execution.
“My mother, Dorothy Booth, was an incredible woman who was taken before her time,” Aldred said. “After waning for nearly 16 years, the finality of today’s events have allowed me to completely say goodbye to my mother.”
McCarthy was the 51st inmate from Dallas County to be executed since 1982. In the U.S., only Harris County, Texas, with 115, has seen more people executed.
Despite being the most active death chamber in the nation, executions in Texas have dropped steadily since 2000. That year, there were 40. Last year, there were 15.
McCarthy was the eighth this year.
The state with the next highest total is Virginia, which has had 110 modern executions.
Racial bias alleged
Maurie Levin, McCarthy’s attorney, said McCarthy’s case was plagued by “shameful errors” of racial bias during jury selection by Dallas County prosecutors and ineffective assistance of counsel.
McCarthy was black. Booth was white.
Levin said the Texas courts’ refusal to examine 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.”
Levin, a University of Texas law professor, has represented defendants sentenced to death since 1983. She is co-director of the school’s Capital Punishment Clinic.
McCarthy’s execution, as an “emblem of Texas’ 500th execution, is something all Texans should be ashamed of,” Levin said.
Dallas County has a history of racial discrimination during jury selection. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 reversed a 1986 conviction because of overt racial discrimination by prosecutors. An investigation by The Dallas Morning News was cited in the court’s concurring opinion as evidence of a continuing problem of discrimination in the criminal justice system.
One of the 12 jurors at McCarthy’s 2002 retrial was black. Levin said trial attorneys did not object to the exclusion of other black jurors.
McCarthy received a second trial because an appellate court ruled her confession to police was illegally obtained. The second jury reached the same conclusion as the first and sent McCarthy to death row.
McCarthy was charged and indicted but never tried in the December 1988 deaths of two elderly black women. Maggie Harding, 81, was stabbed and bludgeoned with a meat tenderizer. Jettie Lucas, 85, was beaten with a claw hammer and stabbed with a knife.
McCarthy received two stays of executions this year, but her appeals ran out Tuesday.
In the days before the execution, McCarthy was placed on the prison’s “death watch.”
Prison officials had recorded her activities since 12:01 a.m. Monday. Notes from the watch say McCarthy was sleeping, “reading and eating a peach,” “grooming herself after a shower,” “packing her property” and “laying in bed doing a puzzle book.”
She was given a new white prison uniform Wednesday and offered, as her last meal, the same food other prisoners ate for dinner: pepper steak, mashed potatoes with gravy, mixed vegetables and white cake with chocolate icing.
A few dozen death penalty opponents gathered near the prison where McCarthy was executed. Texas Department of Public Safety officials blocked the street in front of the prison, keeping people from in front of the building.
As witnesses walked in to McCarthy’s execution, the protesters yelled, “We say, ‘Hell, no.’ ”
They could not be heard inside.
Follow Jennifer Emily on Twitter at @dallascourts.