Kimberly McCarthy, a Texas death row inmate, is set to be executed by lethal injection Tuesday night, the first woman in more than two years to face the death penalty in the United States.
Women are rarely executed in the United States. Only 12 of the more than 1,300 inmates who have been put to death since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976 have been female, the Death Penalty Information Center reports.
McCarthy, 51, was found guilty of the 1997 murder of her elderly neighbor, Dorothy Booth. McCarthy reportedly forced her way into the 70-year-old woman’s Dallas home on the pretext of borrowing sugar and then stabbed her five times, according to media reports.
McCarthy cut off Booth’s left ring finger to take her diamond wedding ring and then attempted to purchase crack. She ultimately pawned the ring for $200 before she was caught.
Although McCarthy was found guilty and sentenced to death by a Dallas county jury in 1998, her conviction was later overturned by the Texas Court of Appeals after it was revealed she had no attorney present when she was questioned after her arrest. She was tried a second time in 2002, where she was once again condemned to death.
Under the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment, a person cannot be retried for the same offense after an acquittal, conviction or certain mistrials. However, jeopardy does not apply in a retrial of a conviction that was reversed on appeal.
McCarthy is suspected of having had other victims. Prosecutors allege she may be responsible for the murders of two other elderly women, one who was beaten to death with a meat tenderizer and the other with a claw hammer.
McCarthy will be the second person executed in the United States so far this year. Forty-three inmates were put to death in 2012.