A woman convicted of torturing and killing a mentally impaired man she lured to Texas with the promise of marriage was put to death on Wednesday in a rare execution of a female prisoner.
The lethal injection of Suzanne Basso, 59, made the New York native only the 14th woman executed in the US since the Supreme Court in 1976 allowed capital punishment to resume. Almost 1,400 men have been put to death during that time.
Before being put to death, Basso told a warden who stood near her “No sir” when asked to make a final statement. She appeared to be holding back tears, then smiled at two friends watching through a window. She mouthed a brief word to them and nodded.
As the lethal dose of pentobarbital took effect, Basso, dressed in a white prison uniform, began to snore. Her deep snoring became less audible and eventually stopped.
She was pronounced dead at 6:26pm, 11 minutes after the drug was administered.
Basso was sentenced to die for the 1998 slaying of 59-year-old Louis “Buddy” Musso, whose battered and lacerated body, washed with bleach and scoured with a wire brush, was found in a ditch outside Houston.
Prosecutors said Basso had made herself the beneficiary of Musso’s insurance policies and took over his social security benefits after luring him from New Jersey.
The execution, the second this year in Texas, came about an hour after the Supreme Court rejected a last-day appeal from Basso’s attorney, who argued she was not mentally competent.
Lower federal courts and state courts also refused to halt the punishment, upholding the findings of a state judge last month that Basso had a history of fabricating stories about herself, seeking attention and manipulating psychological tests.
About 60 women are on death row in the US, making up about 2 percent of the 3,100 condemned inmates. Texas, the nation’s busiest death-penalty state, has now executed five women and 505 men.