Thursday, September 15, 2005

September 14, 2005

...Three weeks prior to the murders, Newton purchased a $50,000 life insurance policy on herself, another on her husband and a third on her daughter....

Last Meal: No last meal request.

The skinny: Frances Newton was executed for the fatal shootings of her husband and two children 18 years ago, becoming the third woman, and first black woman, to be put to death in Texas since executions resumed in 1982.

More skinny: On April 7, 1987, police were dispatched to an apartment complex on a report of a possible shooting. The deputy found the bodies of a 23 year old man and two children, 23 month old and 7 year old. Each had been shot to death with a .25 caliber handgun. The man's wife, Frances, and her cousin were at the location when the deputy arrived. Earlier in the evening, Newton took a blue bag out of her car and put it in an abandoned house which belonged to her parents. A homicide detective later recovered the bag, which containing a .25 automatic pistol. A ballistics expert established that the pistol was the murder weapon. Gunpowder residue was found on Newton's skirt. Three weeks prior to the murders, Newton purchased a $50,000 life insurance policy on herself, another on her husband and a third on her daughter. Newton, the primary beneficiary on the latter two policies, made claims on the policies following the killings.

Newton believed the real killer is or may be related to a drug dealer she knew only as "Charlie," who she said was upset with her husband for not repaying a $500 debt.

Newton didn't deny putting a gun in her 7-year-old son's knapsack and stashing the bag at an abandoned house. But she and her lawyers argued the .25-caliber blue steel revolver she hid was not the one used to fatally shoot her family.

Last words and such: Strapped to the death chamber gurney and with her parents among the people watching, she declined to make a final statement, quietly saying "no" and shaking her head when the warden asked if she would like to speak. Newton, 40, briefly turned her head to make eye contact with her family as the drugs began flowing. She appeared to attempt to mouth something to her relatives, but the drugs took effect.

Factoids: Newton was the...

38th murderer executed in U.S. in 2005
982nd murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
13th murderer executed in Texas in 2005
349th murderer executed in Texas since 1976

Newton is the fifth woman known to have been executed in Texas. A black slave named Lucy is thought to have been the first in 1858. Two female murderers, both white, have been put to death since Texas resumed executions in 1982 after a brief national ban on capital punishment imposed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

About 50 demonstrators chanted outside but the crowd paled in comparison to the group of hundreds that assembled in 1998 to protest the execution of Karla Faye Tucker, who was the first woman executed in Texas since the Civil War.

Local black leaders warned Tuesday of divine and political repercussions if condemned killer Frances Newton was executed tonight in Huntsville.