Woman on Texas death row loses federal appeal

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Kimberly McCarthy

HOUSTON - A woman on Texas death row lost a federal court appeal Wednesday, moving her closer to execution for the fatal stabbing and bludgeoning of a 71-year-old neighbor during a robbery 15 years ago.

The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused an appeal from Kimberly McCarthy, 51, a former nursing home therapist from Dallas County who is one of 10 women awaiting execution in Texas.

McCarthy was sentenced to die for the July 1997 killing of retired college professor Dorothy Booth at Booth's home in Lancaster, about 15 miles south of Dallas.

Evidence in the case revealed that McCarthy showed up at Booth's door pretending to borrow sugar and then attacked the woman with a metal candle holder and stabbed her at least five times with a knife. Booth's finger was cut off while she was still alive to remove her wedding ring, authorities said.

The ring was pawned for $200, and McCarthy drove Booth's Mercedes-Benz to a crack house to buy cocaine and used the woman's credit card at least four times, according to evidence in the case.

McCarthy was tried twice for the slaying, most recently in 2002. Her first conviction in 1998 was thrown out three years later by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which ruled police violated her constitutional rights by using a statement she made to them after asking for a lawyer.

In the appeal rejected Wednesday, McCarthy's attorneys contended her trial lawyers were deficient for not introducing into evidence at her punishment trial a statement she made to police acknowledging she was at the crime scene but blaming the killing on two men with her.

Her appeal also argued trial attorneys improperly allowed the daughter of her victim to be present in the courtroom as the trial unfolded. The daughter became distraught as crime scene photos were described in court and she had to be removed from the courtroom. McCarthy's lawyers then asked for a mistrial but the request was denied by the trial judge.

Prosecutors also presented DNA and fingerprint evidence that tied McCarthy to the similar slayings in 1988 of two other women, one 81 and the other 85. One of the victims was beaten with a metal meat tenderizer and stabbed, the other with both sides of a claw hammer and stabbed. McCarthy denied any involvement in the killings.

When initially sentenced to die in 1998, McCarthy became only the second Dallas County woman in the 20th century sent to death row. Since Texas resumed carrying out capital punishment in 1982, only three of the 482 convicted killers put to death have been women.

McCarthy does not yet have an execution date.

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