71 year-old retired professor Dorothy Booth thought nothing of loaning her neighbor, Kimberly McCarthy, a cup of sugar when Kimberly called to ask that day in 1997. Dorothy was in her kitchen when Kimberly caught her, beat her down, and stabbed the elderly woman multiple times. While Dorothy gasped for life, Kimberly severed the older woman’s ring finger for her victim’s wedding ring. And this is why Kimberly McCarthy will be executed Tuesday night by the Texas Department of Corrections.
Texas has the reputation, and the numbers to back it up, for executing inmates. In the last 30 years, 492 death row inmates have walked to the execution chamber. Kimberly McCarthy will be the first woman to take that walk in eight years, and the fourth woman overall in a state recognized for Longhorn cattle, Aggie football, oversized ranches - and the death penalty.
In Texas, the rules of evidence prevent certain prior criminal acts from being presented to a jury during the guilt-innocence phase of the trial. However, once a defendant is found guilty, jurors are presented information about the defendant’s prior criminal conduct during the second phase of the trial – which is when they determine the defendant’s punishment (source). That’s when the jury learned it may not have been Kimberly McCarthy’s first murder. Strong evidence revealed she probably murdered 81 year-old Maggie Harding and Jettie Lucas, 85, both of Dallas. Maggie had helped Kimberly plan Kimberly’s wedding. Jetti was physically disabled. Both had been friends of Kimberly’s mother. Both were beaten to death with hammer - type objects. Kimberly McCarthy was indicted but never tried for these crimes.
McCarthy was working as a therapist in a nursing home. Her former husband was the leader of the New Black Panther Party. She netted $200 from the Booth slaying; she spent it on crack cocaine. She had used Booth’s credit card to purchase cigarettes for resale. McCarthy, who was 36 when she murdered Booth, had held jobs such as waitressing, a home health care giver, and a laborer. She had one son. According to those who testified, she was a crack cocaine addict.
There is a petition for those who oppose the execution. “Her association with the wrong people coupled with her out of control drug use became a lethal combination which led to tragedy. Prior to her drug use Kimberly had no criminal record and was in the field of helping and healing the sick as an occupational therapist!” it reads in part. But prison records show McCarthy received a two year sentence in 1990 for forgery, was paroled, and her parole ended in 1991. She had also been arrested for Theft of Services and Prostitution.
Kimberly McCarthy continued to insist her innocence. Regardless, her execution date is set. Can her addiction to crack cocaine be blamed for the murders? Did Kimberly McCarthy act on her own selfish accord, bludgeoning the victims for drug money? She has sat on death row now for over 12 years. If she is clean and sober, would it be unkind to keep her alive and do something positive with her time, such as educate young people on addiction? If she has found God, is she not a better person than the addict of 1997?
On January 29, 2013 after 6:00 PM, Kimberly McCarthy will be executed by the state of Texas. She has yet to admit guilt.
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