DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A woman scheduled to be put to death next week has been given a temporary stay of execution. Kimberly McCarthy of Lancaster was convicted of the brutal 1997 murder of an elderly neighbor. But a press release from Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins said that her execution date has been moved from April 3 to June 26.
McCarthy was sentenced to death for the robbery, beating and fatal stabbing of 71-year-old retired college professor Dorothy Booth. McCarthy went to Booth’s home under the pretense of needing a cup of sugar. Police said that she a crack cocaine addict who used a butcher knife to cut off Booth’s finger and remove her wedding ring.
DNA evidence linked McCarthy to Booth’s murder and the murders of two other women. She was never tried on those other cases.
In the District Attorney’s statement, Watkins said, “When I sign a death warrant in Dallas County, I want the public to trust that the inmate who was sentenced to death by a jury received a fair trial.”
The delay comes as “six proposed bills seek to improve the fairness of the ultimate punishment.” Those six bills in the Legislature address a number of issues involving death penalty cases. One of the bills introduced would require biological testing of all evidence for DNA before seeking the death penalty.
However, the questions in McCarthy’s case are not related to the actual death sentence, but rather how that sentence could be impacted by pending legislation. There is some confusion as to whether or not the bills would affect McCarthy’s case. Officials are waiting for decisions from lawmakers to determine the potential outcome. The defense has suggested racial bias amongst the jury. McCarthy was already tried twice and sentenced to death both times.
Greg Davis was the prosecutor at the time of McCarthy’s trial. He said that none of the pending bills should impact the McCarthy case because there was no racial bias. Although she was sentenced for killing a white woman, McCarthy’s other two alleged victims were black. Watkins also agrees that McCarthy was responsible for the murder.
Watkins was in court on Friday morning to formally announce the agreement for a temporary stay of McCarthy’s execution. “I think it’s just prudent for us to stand aside and let our lawmakers make a determination on these issues before we go forward with an execution,” Watkins explained.
The judge on Friday said that he is waiting for the Court of Criminal Appeals to rule on motions filed by lawyers on both sides of the case. If he does not hear back from the court by 4:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon, he will order that the execution be delayed.
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