US & Canada

Texas executes 500th person since resuming death penalty

An anti-death penalty protester stands outside the the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Huntsville Unit (26 June 2013)
Image caption Protesters held up placards outside the prison where McCarthy was executed

The US state of Texas has executed its 500th prisoner since it reinstated the death penalty in 1982.

Kimberly McCarthy, 52, who was convicted of killing her neighbour in 1997, was given a lethal injection on Wednesday evening.

McCarthy was also the first woman executed in the US for nearly three years.

Texas is one of 32 states to still have the death penalty, but it carries out the most executions.

Since the US Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976, 40% of all executions have taken place in the state.

Despite growing opposition to the death penalty worldwide, Texans support it. A poll by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune last year found 73% of voters backed the punishment.

'500 too many'

Officials said that for them, the state's 500th execution was no different to any other.

"We simply carried out the court's order," Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark told the Associated Press.

McCarthy, a former nursing home therapist who became addicted to crack cocaine, attacked 71-year-old retired psychology professor Dorothy Booth inside her home in the town of Lancaster, with a butcher's knife and candelabra.

She used the knife to sever her victim's finger and get her wedding ring.

In her final statement before being given a single lethal dose of pentobarbital, McCarthy did not mention her status as the 500th person to be executed.

"This is not a loss. This is a win. You know where I'm going. I'm going home to be with Jesus. Keep the faith. I love you all," she said.

McCarthy was pronounced dead at 18:37 (23:37 GMT).

Her lawyer Maurie Levin said in a statement: "Five hundred is 500 too many. I look forward to the day when we recognise that this pointless and barbaric practice, imposed almost exclusively on those who are poor and disproportionately on people of colour, has no place in a civilised society."

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