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Texas executes 500th inmate since death penalty reinstated

AFP-JIJI

The state of Texas on Wednesday executed its 500th convict since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, a record in a country where capital punishment is in decline elsewhere.

Kimberly McCarthy, 52, was declared dead by lethal injection at 6:37 p.m. in the Walls Unit, a red-brick prison in the small town of Huntsville, prison officials said.

After 14 years on death row, time stopped for the former crack addict, who was condemned to death for the savage murder of 71-year-old retired college professor Dorothy Booth in 1997. McCarthy fatally stabbed Booth with a butcher’s knife and beat her with a candelabra before, police said, she cut off Booth’s finger to take her wedding ring.

“As the lethal drugs began to take effect, her last words were ‘God is good,’ ” the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said.

McCarthy, who is black, received two last-minute reprieves in January and April due to allegations of racial discrimination during the selection of what became her all-white jury.

But after a Texas appeals court refused to reopen the case, she ran out of both options and time.

“If there was something to appeal, I would,” her attorney, Maurie Levin, said shortly before the execution. “For procedural reasons, the claims were never reviewed on the merits.”

Some 1,336 people have been executed across the United States since the Supreme Court lifted a moratorium on the application of the death penalty in 1976. More than a third of the executions have been carried out in Texas.