US state of Texas executes woman convicted of murdering family

Thursday, September 15, 2005

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US state of Texas
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Frances Newton was put to death by lethal injection in the US state of Texas on Wednesday, September 14, 2005, for the murder of her husband and two children in April of 1987.

Her parents watched the execution in Huntsville where a few dozen demonstrators gathered outside to protest. Frances Newton was the first state-sponsored execution of an African-American female in Texas since the civil war. Newton is the third woman put to death by the state of Texas since capital punishment resumed following the end of a US national moratorium on the death penalty in 1982.

According to the police, the motive for the murders was collection of $100,000 in life insurance. Newton stated that a drug dealer committed the killings. Prosecutors say that gunpowder residue was found on Newton's skirt. Ballistics tests also backed up police claims that the pistol in question was the murder weapon. The defense rebuffed this by saying that police had, in fact, found two weapons. The defense also stated that the residue could have come from standard garden fertilizer.

In 1998 hundreds protested the execution of Karla Faye Tucker, the first woman put to death in Texas since the Civil War era. Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas, had postponed Newton's sentence to allow further investigation of evidence. Once the governor was convinced the state's case was solid, he allowed the execution to proceed.

Frances Newton of Texas was 40.