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Jodi Arias, Women and the Death Penalty

Updated on January 26, 2014

Only thirteen women have been executed since 1976 in the United States. With Jodi Arias's first sentencing phase resulting in a mistrial - 8 to 4 in favor of the death penalty, we are reminded of the rare instances in which women kill and are convicted of murder.

A Look at Past Executions of Women

Convicted in 2013, Jodi awaits her sentencing for the 2008 murder of Travis Alexander. Followers of the trial wonder if she will receive the death penalty. The first sentencing phase resulted in a mistrial. The resentencing is scheduled for March 2014. If Jodi were sentenced to death, she would join the thirteen women who have been executed since 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated. Here’s a look at the thirteen in whose footsteps Jodi would follow.

Velma Barfield

Crime: Considered a serial killer, Barfield was convicted of one murder, but eventually confessed to six.

Death by: Lethal Injection

State: North Carolina

Execution Date: 11/2/1984

Ethnicity: White

Time between Offense and Execution: 7 Years

Karla Faye Tucker

Crime: Murder with a pickaxe during the commission of a theft. Tucker’s boyfriend had already killed a man. Tucker murdered a woman who had been hiding under the victim’s bed.

Death by: Lethal Injection

State: Texas

Execution Date: 2/3/98

Ethnicity: White

Time between Offense and Execution: 15 Years

Judias "Judy" Buenoano

Crime: Two Murders, One Count of Attempted Murder. Buenoano’s modus operandi was to poison her victims.

Death by: Electrocution

State: Florida

Execution Date: 3/30/98

Ethnicity: White

Time between Offense and Execution: 26 Years

Betty Lou Beets

Crime: Convicted of shooting her fifth husband, Jimmy Don Beets in 1983.

Death by: Lethal Injection

State: Texas

Execution Date: 2/24/2000

Ethnicity: White

Time between Offense and Execution: 16 Years

Christina Marie Riggs

Crime: Two Murders: Riggs smothered her two pre-school aged children after a botched attempt to sedate and poison them.

Death by: Lethal Injection

State: Arkansas

Execution Date: 5/2/2000

Ethnicity: White

Time between Offense and Execution: 2 Years

Wanda Jean Allen

Crime: The first-degree-murder of Gloria Jean Leathers.

Death by: Lethal Injection

State: Oklahoma

Execution Date: 1/11/2001

Ethnicity: Black

Time between Offense and Execution: 12 Years

Marilyn Kay Plantz

Crime: Murder of James Earl Plantz.

Death by: Lethal Injection

State: Oklahoma

Execution Date: 5/1/2001

Ethnicity: White

Time between Offense and Execution: 13 Years

Lois Nadean Smith

Crime: Murder of Cindy Bailee

Death by: Lethal Injection

State: Oklahoma

Execution Date: 12/4/2001

Ethnicity: White

Time between Offense and Execution: 20 Years

Lynda Lyon Block

Crime: Murder of a police officer.

Death by: Electrocution

State: Alabama

Execution Date: 5/10/2002

Ethnicity: White

Time between Offense and Execution: 9 Years

Aileen Wuornos

Crime: Six murders committed during her time as a prostitute. She was portrayed by Charlize Theron in the 2003 film Monster.

Death by: Lethal Injection

State: Florida

Execution Date: 10/09/2001

Ethnicity: White

Time between Offense and Execution: 13 Years

Frances Newton

Crime: The 1987 murders of her husband, son and daughter.

Death by: Lethal Injection

State: Texas

Execution Date: 9/14/2005

Ethnicity: Black

Time between Offense and Execution: 19 Years

Teresa Lewis

Crime: Convicted of using sex and money to arrange for the murders of her husband and stepson.

Death by: Lethal Injection

State: Virginia

Execution Date: 9/23/2010

Ethnicity: White

Time between Offense and Execution: 8 Years

Kimberly McCarthy

Crime: Murder of her 71-year-old neighbor, suspect in two other murders.

Death by: Lethal Injection

State: Texas

Execution Date: 6/26/2013

Ethnicity: Black

Time between Offense and Execution: 16 Years

Averages of Executed Women

Based on State (Death Penalty is currently legal in 32 of the 50 U.S. States)

Alabama: 7.6%

Arkansas: 7.6%

Florida: 15.3%

North Carolina: 7.6%

Oklahoma: 23%

Texas: 30.7%

Virginia: 7.6

Other Averages

Race

White: 76.9%

Black: 23%

Number of Murder or Conspiracy to Commit Murder Counts

One count: 46%

More than one count: 53%

Method of Executions (Set at the state’s discretion)

Lethal Injection: 84.6%

Electrocution: 15.3%

Passage of time between offense and execution: 13.5 Years

Death Penalty Survey

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Women and the Death Penalty Facts

Capital punishment is legal in 32 U.S. states

Connecticut, Maryland and New Mexico have abolished the death penalty, but it is not retroactive. Prisoners on death row in those states will still be executed.

Since 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court, 1,362 people have been executed. (as of January 2014)

Japan is the only industrial democracy besides the United States that has the death penalty.

There are 61 women on death row in the United States. (as of January 2014)

Thirteen women have been executed since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. (as of January 2014)

Women account for about 1 in 10 (10%) murder arrests.

Women account for only 1 in 50 (2.1%) death sentences imposed at the trial level.

Women account for only 1 in 67 (1.8%) persons presently on death row.

Women account for only 1 in 100 (.9%) persons actually executed in the modern era.

Books From The Author

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