Without last-minute court intervention, or a temporary reprieve from Gov. George W. Bush, pickax killer Karla Faye Tucker will become the first woman executed in Texas in 135 years today.
On Monday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected Tucker’s plea for mercy, voting 16-0, with two members abstaining, to deny clemency. The board voted 16-1, with one member abstaining, to reject her request for a 30-day reprieve.
Board Chairman Victor Rodriguez said he is unconvinced about Tucker’s professed religious conversion, saying he doesn’t believe she is truthful.
“Her alluding to religion and being a saved person, that was her case to make. Unfortunately, from a parole board standpoint, she did not make a strong enough case, as evidenced by the vote,” Rodriguez said.
Gov. Bush said he will not decide until today whether to intervene on Tucker’s behalf. His only option is a one-time, 30-day reprieve.
Unless Bush or the U.S. Supreme Court intervenes, Tucker is set to be executed after 6 p.m. for the 1983 slaying of Jerry Dean Lynn, 27, of Houston. A woman spending the night with Lynn, 32-year-old Deborah Thornton, also was killed by repeated blows from the pickax, which Tucker had found in Lynn’s room.
Tucker’s companion, Daniel Garrett, was also sentenced to death but he died in prison of liver disease in 1993.
Tucker, 38, would be the first woman put to death in Texas since 1863 and the first woman executed in the United States since 1984.
In Huntsville on Monday evening, journalists from the United States, Europe and Asia crammed into the parking lots outside the Walls Unit, which houses the Texas death chamber.
“We haven’t had this much activity since we started doing executions again back in ‘82,” said David Nunnelee, a public information officer for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
David Botsford, one of Tucker’s attorneys, said the pardons board’s ruling proves that the clemency process is meaningless.
“There is no mercy in Texas,” Botsford said. “Texas will look back and say it was a sad moment in Texas history … a black moment.”
Tucker, a one-time drug addict and prostitute who says she is now a born-again Christian, has been international news since her execution date was set in December.