Rare Female Execution In Texas Postponed On Suspicion Of Racial Bias

A rare female execution has been postponed by a court in Texas after the prisoner’s lawyers argued her original prosecution was tainted with racial bias.

Fifty-one-year-old Kimberly McCarthy was due to be executed on January 28. However, the latest postponement of the rare female execution will give McCarthy’s lawyers a chance to have her death sentence commuted to life in prison. McCarthy’s execution has been pushed back to April 3 when she will be put to death by lethal injection if her lawyers do not manage to overturn the death sentence.

McCarthy was found guilty of murdering her 71-year-old white neighbour, Dorothy Booth, in 1998. She was accused of entering Booth’s home after telling her victim she wished to borrow sugar and then killing Booth and chopping off her finger to steal a diamond ring. Prosecutors have also claimed McCarthy was responsible for the murder of two other women.

When sentencing was delivered in her trial, McCarthy became the first woman to face the death sentence in the US in more than two years.

However, McCarthy’s lawyers argue their client has been discriminated against. Maurie Levin of the University of Texas capital punishment clinic said she was pleased that defense lawyers would “now have an opportunity to present evidence of discrimination in the selection of the jury that sentenced Kimberly McCarthy to death.”

Levin and her co-attorneys say that jury selection at McCarthy’s trial was racially slanted, with all but one of the 13 jurors white. This, says Levin, is not entirely representative of the population of Dallas County, which is almost a quarter black.

McCarthy’s legal team contest that this imbalance is typical of wider systemic discrimination in Texas in capital cases and particularly in Dallas County. They point out that, while the county is 23 percent black and 69 percent white, 37 percent of the 31 individuals on death row from Dallas County are black. They add that 22 percent are Latino and 37 percent are white.

Levin told The Guardian:

“There is clear evidence that the prosecution excluded jurors on the basis of race. Given that, the execution of Miss McCarthy had to be stayed.”

The Guardian‘s Ed Pilkington writes:

“The history of Texas prosecutors “shuffling” black people to the back of the queue during jury selection is long and ugly, bordering on farcical. As recently as 2005, a prospective black juror was asked to show his teeth in court after the prosecutor argued that missing front teeth indicated a ‘socio-economic stereotype’.”

Do you think this rare female execution will be struck off for good?