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Wednesday, February 4, 1998 Published at 04:14 GMT

World: Americas

Cheers and prayers greet Tucker's death

About 300 people gathered outside the execution block

Crowds waiting for the execution of Karla Faye Tucker grew throughout the day. By the time she was taken to the death chamber, there were about 300 people outside the jail in Huntsville, Texas.

Some had come to demand mercy. They carried placards with messages such as "Execution is not the solution" and "Jesus was a victim of the death penalty".

Others had come to insist the State deliver justice in the form of a lethal injection.

[ image: Cheers greeted news that Tucker was dead]
Cheers greeted news that Tucker was dead
The two sides shouted at each other, but police kept them separated.

From time to time, announcements were made to the crowd to explain what was happening.

When it became clear that legal efforts to prevent the execution had failed, a large cheer went up from those who had wanted Tucker to pay for her crimes.

An even bigger roar greeted news of her death shortly after 6:45pm local time. Tucker's supporters could be heard gently singing.

The area in front of the building was illuminated by the arc lights of television crews from all over the world, reporting on the final hours of the double axe murderer.

[ image: Those wanting Tucker to die were just as vocal as those wanting mercy]
Those wanting Tucker to die were just as vocal as those wanting mercy
It was partly the novelty of executing a woman - there were only 49 among 3,365 US death row inmates nationwide as of January 1- which attracted all the reporters and photographers to descend on Huntsville.

"We're hoping for a miracle here, if Karla Faye Tucker is to live," said a visibly moved journalist for France 2 television in a live report in front of the prison.

Much had also been made of the born-again Christian who had repented for her crimes. This brought pleas for mercy from Pope John Paul II and TV evangelist Pat Robertson.

But to the majority of Texans who support the death penalty, the case of Karla Faye Tucker was no different to 144 death row inmates executed in the Lone Star State in the past two decades. In their view, she got what she deserved.

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Women On Death Row

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