Updated Sept. 15, 2005-- Frances Newton, convicted of killing her husband and two children to gain $100,000 in insurance benefits, was executed Wednesday as dozens of death house protesters fervently prayed for her deliverance and chanted their opposition to the state's death penalty.
After weeks of intense legal wrangling, Newton's execution went ahead after the U.S. Supreme Court and Gov. Rick Perry refused to intervene. She was the third woman to be put to death in Texas since executions were resumed in 1982, and the first Black woman executed in Texas since the Civil War.
Strapped to the death chamber gurney and with her parents among the people watching, the 40-year-old declined to make a final statement, quietly saying "no" and shaking her head when the warden asked if she would like to speak.
Newton briefly turned her head to make eye contact with her family as the lethal liquid began to flow. She appeared to attempt to mouth something to her relatives, but the drugs took affect. She coughed once and gasped as her eyes closed and her mouth remained slightly open. Eight minutes later, at 6:17 p.m. (CT), she was pronounced dead.
One of her sisters stood flat against a wall at the rear of the death house, her arms raised against the wall and her head buried in her arms, refusing to watch. Her parents held hands and her mother brushed away a tear before they walked to the back of the chamber to console their other daughter.
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