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Execution makes woman 14th female executed in United States since 1976

On Wednesday, Feb. 5, the rare execution of a female inmate took place in Texas. Suzanne Basso was executed by lethal injection making her only the 14th female to be executed in the United States since capital punishment resumed in 1976.

Suzanne Basso was the 14th woman executed in the United States.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice

As Basso, 59 was asked if she wanted to make a final statement, she told the prison warden, “No, sir.” She focused on two of her friends that were at the prison to witness the execution. Smiling at the two people, Basso mouthed her goodbye.

Dressed in a white prison uniform, Basso was given a lethal dose of pentobarbital. The doctor responsible for Basso during the execution pronounced her dead at 6:26 p.m. Basso died 11 minutes after receiving the lethal injection.

Basso was convicted of killing Louis “Buddy” Musso, 59, in 1998 and received the death penalty. Musso’s body was beaten and stabbed, then washed with bleach and scrubbed with a wire brush before being dumped in a ditch just outside of Houston, Tex.

The autopsy performed on Musso revealed that he had been tortured. He had several broken bones, of which one was a skull fracture and he had 14 broken ribs. His body was covered with bruises and his back was full of cigarette burns.

According to court documents, Musso met Basso and her son at a church carnival in New Jersey. Thinking he and Basso were going to get married, the mentally impaired Musso made her the beneficiary on his insurance policies when he travelled from New Jersey to Texas.

Former Harris County assistant district attorney Colleen Barnett prosecuted Basso for the torture and murder of Musso. Throughout the trial, Basso’s behavior was questionable as she claimed she was blind and paralyzed.

Barnett said of the trial, “It was challenging, but I saw her for who she was. I was determined I was not going to let her get away with it.”

Basso’s attorney, Winston Cochran Jr., insists that his client was not competent and suffered from delusions. When the state law regulating the competency did not keep his client off death row, he argued that it was “unconstitutionally flawed.”

One instance where Basso’s testimony differed from the explanation given by Cochran was the paralysis. Cochran claims that Basso was paralyzed because of a degenerative disease causing her to use a wheelchair.

However, Basso claims that her paralysis is a result of a beating she received while she was incarcerated. At the competency hearing, Basso was insistent that someone had snuck a snake into the prison hospital in order to try and kill her.

While being questions by law enforcement authorities, Basso told a number of lies. She told investigators that she had worked in the New York governor’s office and went on to claim that she had an affair with Nelson Rockefeller.

The Supreme Court rejected Cochran’s claims that Basso was not mentally competent in the hours leading up to her execution. The Supreme Court upheld the decisions by the lower federal courts and state courts that Basso was creating the stories in order to get attention and had manipulated the psychological tests.

In addition to Basso, five other people including Basso’s son were convicted in the murder of Musso. However, Basso was the only one to receive the death penalty.

Barnett commented on the other’s who were convicted by saying, “Suzanne ran the show for sure. She was the one in charge. She directed them. She wanted the money. She’s a heinous killer.”

Basso’s execution was the second one to take place this year in Texas. Currently, there are 60 women on death row. There are approximately 3,100 inmates on death row waiting on their executions to take place.

Texas utilizes the death penalty more than any other state in the country. So far, Texas had executed 510 people of which only five were women.

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