Texas' 500th: Execution of Kimberly McCarthy Will Be Milestone

Tuesday, 25 Jun 2013 06:12 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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The execution of a 51-year-old woman Wednesday will mark a grim milestone in Texas: the 500th person to be put to death in the Lone Star state.

Kimberly McCarthy, convicted of killing a neighbor, already garnered attention because it’s rare that a woman is put to death in the United States. She will be the 13th woman to be executed in the United States since 1776, unless there is a reprieve, according to The Christian Post.

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Texas has put more convicted killers to death than any other state since capital punishment was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 1976. At 499, the state sits at more than five times the number of people executed by Virginia, the second on the list. Thirty-two states have the death penalty.

But even Texas may be taking a closer look at how the death penalty is used, according to The Associated Press. Concerns about wrongful convictions have slowed death penalty cases in other states, and in Texas, lawmakers narrowed cases in which the death penalty can be applied and offered more sentencing options for juries and courts.

Mark White, the Texas attorney general when the first inmate was executed and former Texas governor, called the system “fragile” as attitudes change.

“There’s a big difference between fair and harsh,” he told the AP. “I think you have (Texas) getting a reputation for being bloodthirsty, and that’s not good.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that recent changes have helped to make the system more equitable. Supreme Court rulings excluded mentally impaired people or those under 18 years of age at the time of their crime. Texas also allows post-conviction DNA testing for inmates and set minimum qualifications for court-appointed defense attorneys.

McCarthy petitioned the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for a review of her case. A ruling is expected this week.

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Related stories:

Democrats Shifting on Death Penalty

Governor Signs Repeal of Death Penalty in Maryland

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