Huntsville (US): Texas, the busiest death penalty state in the US, is set to mark a solemn moment in criminal justice on Wednesday evening with the execution of convicted killer Kimberly McCarthy.
If McCarthy is put to death as planned, she would become the 500th person executed in Texas since the state resumed carrying out the death penalty in 1982. The 52-year-old also would be the first woman executed in the US since 2010.
Anti-death penalty groups planned to protest outside the Walls Unit in Huntsville, where McCarthy was set to receive a lethal injection on Wednesday evening.
"The whole world is looking at Texas," said Gloria Rubac, with the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement.
McCarthy`s attorney, Maurie Levin, said she has exhausted all efforts to block the execution, after denials by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Texas has carried out nearly 40 per cent of the more than 1,300 executions in US since the Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976. The state`s standing stems from its size as the nation`s second most populous state as well as its tradition of tough justice for killers.
With increased debate in recent years over wrongful convictions, some states have halted the practice entirely.
However, 32 states have the death penalty on the books. Still, it`s clear the debate over capital punishment has touched Texas, with lawmakers providing more sentencing options for juries and courts narrowing the cases for which death can be sought.
McCarthy faces execution for the 1997 robbery, beating and fatal stabbing of retired professor Dorothy Booth. Booth had agreed to give McCarthy a cup of sugar before she was attacked with a butcher knife at her home. Authorities say McCarthy cut off Booth`s finger to remove her wedding ring.
Police also had linked two other slayings to McCarthy, a former nursing home therapist who became addicted to crack cocaine.
In her appeals, McCarthy contended prosecutors improperly excluded black jurors and that her lawyers failed to challenge the moves at trial or in early appeals. McCarthy is black, and Booth was white. All but one of the 12 jurors at McCarthy`s trial were white.
on Tuesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals declined to reconsider its denial a day earlier of McCarthy`s appeal, saying her claims should have been raised previously.