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Wednesday, February 4, 1998 Published at 11:24 GMT



World

Tucker: I'm going to Jesus now
image: [ Karla Faye Tucker's execution brought those for and against the death penalty together outside the jail ]
Karla Faye Tucker's execution brought those for and against the death penalty together outside the jail

The State of Texas has executed Karla Faye Tucker for the two brutal murders she committed 15 years ago.


Witness Mike Graczyk, Associated Press, describes Tucker's last minutes (2' 31'').
Two last-minute appeals to the US Supreme Court in Washington delayed her death but did not prevent it.

Witnesses to the lethal injection said Tucker had given a short statement.


[ image: Karla Faye Tucker: reformed]
Karla Faye Tucker: reformed
"I'm so sorry," she said. "I'm going to be faced with Jesus now ... I love all of you very much. I will see you when you get there, I'll wait for you there."

The entire execution took four minutes, witnesses said. Tucker coughed twice shortly after being given the injection, then went silent.

A release by prison authorities said Tucker wept "for the first time" on Tuesday after saying a prayer with her husband, Dana Brown, whom she married by proxy by two years ago.

The couple were not permitted to hug because of state regulations but they put their hands either side of a screen that separated them.

Tucker's final meal was said to be fruit and salad. A doctor at the execution confirmed she was dead at 0045 GMT (6.45pm local time).


[ image: Tucker's case has provoked passionate protests]
Tucker's case has provoked passionate protests
The witnesses to her death included her husband and the brother of one of her murder victims, Ronald Carlson, who had publicly forgiven her and campaigned for a reduction in her sentence, as well as members of the media.

After Tucker's execution, Richard Thornton, the father of the other victim, said: "The world's a better place."

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court had rejected another attempt by the 38-year-old's lawyers to obtain clemency for their client. It also threw out the two later appeals.


BBC Correspondent Tom Carver reports on the extraordinary scenes in Huntsville (1' 42'').
Tucker admitted killing her victims with a pickaxe and even said shortly afterwards she had enjoyed doing so.

But her gender combined with her conversion to Christianity sparked a coalition including women's groups and right-wing religious organisations that attempted to save her life.


Bianca Jagger, spokesperson for Amnesty International, says Tucker's death was a failing in the judicial system.
She has become the first woman to be killed by Texas since 1863 in a state that put to death 47 men last year.

Demonstrations outside the Walls Unit in Huntsville, near Houston, and at the Supreme Court pitted supporters of the death penalty against those in favour of its abolition.


[ image: Governor George Bush:
Governor George Bush: "God bless Tucker"
But for many who had previously backed capital punishment, the case threw up new concerns and increased consciousness worldwide about the issue.

The Texan Governor, George Bush, was not among them. When the Supreme Court gave its final ruling, after the intended 2400 GMT deadline for the execution had already passed, he confirmed he would not take up his option of intervening.

"I will not grant a stay. May God bless Karla Faye Tucker and may God bless her victims' families," he said.

Since the Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that states could choose to re-introduce the death penalty, only one other woman has been put to death.

Velma Barfield, 52, of North Carolina, was executed for poisoning four people, including her fiance and mother.
 





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  Comment on this story in today's Talking Point.  
  Relevant Stories

04 Feb 98 | World
Cheers and prayers greet Tucker's death

04 Feb 98 | World
New appeals delay Tucker's execution

03 Feb 98 | World
Tucker waits for "miracle" or death

02 Feb 98 | Despatches
Death row prisoner refused clemency

02 Feb 98 | Special Report
Clock ticks for death row woman

23 Jan 98 | Special Report
A crime that shocked America

23 Jan 98 | Special Report
Portrait of a repentant killer

23 Jan 98 | Special Report
Tucker speaks out on prime-time TV

22 Jan 98 | Special Report
Governor faces death row dilemma

 
  Internet Links

Death penalty information centre

Karla Faye Tucker campaign

Women on America's death row


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