Who are the women on death row in Texas?

NEW BOSTON, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – Taylor Parker is set to become the seventh woman on death row in Texas, following her conviction Wednesday in Bowie County for the capital murder of Reagan Hancock and the kidnapping of her baby unborn, Braxlynn Sage. The baby did not survive.

The last woman to be sentenced to death in the state was Kimberly Cargill in June 2012 for the murder of her developmentally disabled babysitter in Smith County, who was set to testify against her in a custody battle.

None of the women currently on death row in Texas are to be executed.

Six women have been executed in Texas since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, more than any other state, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

The last woman to be executed in Texas was Lisa Coleman, on September 17, 2014, for torturing and starving to death her girlfriend’s 9-year-old son.

The last woman to be executed in the United States was Lisa Montgomery in January 2021. It was the first execution of a federal prisoner since 1953, and her case is chillingly reminiscent of Parker’s. She was found guilty of using a rope to strangle an expectant mother to death and using a kitchen knife to cut the baby girl from her womb. Afterwards, Montgomery tried to pass off the baby as his own. Although the murder took place in Missouri, she was incarcerated in a federal prison in Texas before her execution.

Texas death row is primarily a man’s world. Since the start of 2010, Texas has executed 129 convicted felons. Only three of them were women, and women make up just 3.1% of death row inmates in Texas, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Parker was transferred within hours of her sentencing on Wednesday to the Christina Crain Unit in Gatesville for treatment before being transferred to the Mountain View Unit, where all of the death row inmates of the state. As of late Friday afternoon, Parker was not yet on the state’s official list of death row inmates.

TDCJ director of classification and records Timothy Fitzpatrick told the trial that inmates can be transferred to the state prison system the same day they are sentenced by the court and that this is more common in cases of death penalty and high profile cases than in life without parole cases.

When a defendant is convicted, the county is responsible for constructing a prison packet, or “pen packet”, which includes a history of the inmate’s conduct in their jail, the court judgment, and a police report containing the details of the case. The Bowie County Sheriff’s Office began preparing Parker’s pen package ahead of his sentencing so that his transfer to Gatesville could be expedited. As part of the intake process, all inmates are drug screened and IQ tested, and complete a questionnaire about any “negative childhood experiences”. Fitzsimmons says it’s all part of developing an individualized plan for how each inmate will be incarcerated.

Within 48 hours of arrival, death row inmates receive a 148-page Offender Orientation Manual and are given an overview of the rules governing prison life. They are kept in a restricted area and are not allowed to work. Mountain View Senior Warden Andrea Lozada testified that prison staff monitor each new inmate’s behavior for any signs that they will pose a security risk, not only to staff but to other death row inmates. .

The Mountain View unit is in a separate building from the rest of the prisoners in the TDCJ complex. Death row inmates live in individual 60 square foot cells. They have a bunk, a combination toilet, sink and water fountain, a stool with a metal desk, solid steel doors and a window. They are only allowed out of their cells to shower and for two hours a day for recreation, unless they are working.

All work for death row inmates is at the discretion of the warden and the work is done inside the cellblock. Inmates are expected to behave very well, follow the rules, be respectful to staff and never attempt to manipulate, and not pose a threat to security. The types of jobs death row inmates can do are limited to making things like blankets and pillows. They are monitored at all times and all tools are inventoried.

Fitzpatrick said the TDCJ’s greatest control over an inmate is on death row. He said the inmates there have no privileges to “walk around.” Their food is brought to them in their cells. Each time they leave their area, they are first completely strip searched, tied at the wrists and ankles and escorted by two correctional officers. All hallways are closed, with no other inmates nearby. They go from “point A” to “point B” without detour.

Like the general population and ad seg module of the Bi-State Prison, Death Row has a common room between the two rows of cells. They have one television, and they vote on what they watch for the two hours a day they are allowed out. If they are “able to work”, the detainees can be together in the common room. Otherwise, they will be alone in the room.

Visits are made behind glass without contact and must be approved. Family members must show their relationship and the prison verifies that they are not former inmates or prison employees. Death row inmates can have up to 10 visitors on their list and they can only update this list every six months. Inmates fit for work may have up to one visit per week, and these visits may last up to two hours. Visits with spiritual advisors and lawyers do not count towards the weekly visit limit.

Death row inmates can make purchases at the commissary for up to $85 every two weeks, and these purchases are closely monitored. All items purchased from the Commissioner must be for the offender’s personal use and for the purpose for which they are intended.

Sick calls are made inside the death row building and nurses or doctors, as needed, come to see inmates. The only reason they could go to the medical building is if they need an x-ray, and then it’s under heavy surveillance with no one around. Even church consists of what Fitzpatrick described as “cell study.”

If for some reason they have to leave the prison, such as to go to Galveston Hospital, death row inmates travel alone in a van with at least two guards and a supervisor. They do not travel by bus with other inmates as do those housed in the general population.

About a dozen prison officers are selected by the warden for assignment on death row, taking into consideration the length of tenure, abilities, experience, and inmate management skills.

“While there may be other locations within the facility that may not be the ratio we would like due to staffing, Death Row will not be affected by this,” Fitzpatrick said. “Regardless of any staffing shortages this prison may face, it will never affect death row staff.”

“No matter how understaffed I am, when it’s Death Row, there will definitely be staff needed due to security,” Lozada confirmed at the helm. “They follow the rules, know human management and recognize manipulation. They get a lot more training to make sure they don’t fall victim to any type of inappropriate behavior.

The other six women housed in the Mountain View unit have been there for 10 to 27 years. They are between 49 and 64 years old. At 29, Parker will be the youngest.

Erica Yvonne Sheppard, 49, was convicted with a co-accused of the 1993 murder of a 43-year-old woman in her home in order to steal her car. She has been on death row for 27 years, longer than any other woman.

Darlie Lynn Routier, 52, has been on death row for 25 years after being convicted of the 1996 stabbing of her two young sons, Damon and Devon.

Brittany Holberg, 49, is on death row for the 1996 murder and robbery of an 80-year-old man. The victim was stabbed more than 60 times and had part of a lamp shoved down his throat. She has been there for 24 years.

Linda Carty, 64, is the only British woman on death row in the United States. She was convicted in 2002 of orchestrating the murder and abduction of the woman’s child by her 20-year-old neighbor. Carty denied any involvement. Three men found guilty of complicity received long prison sentences. Carty had death. She has been there for 20 years.

Melissa Lucio, 54, has been on death row for 14 years for her conviction for the murder of her 2-year-old daughter in 2007. Her execution was delayed in April as she continues to fight to be exonerated.

Kimberly Cargill, 55, was sentenced to death in 2012 for the murder of her developmentally disabled babysitter in Smith County, who was set to testify against her in a custody battle. She has been there for 10 years.

The state of Texas executed four people in 2022 and another execution is scheduled for this year. As of November 11, six executions are already scheduled for 2023.

Texas, which is the second most populous state in the Union, has executed 577 offenders since capital punishment resumed in 1982 – more than a third of the national total – the most recent being Tracy Beatty on November 9 for having beat and strangled his mother. to death in 2003.

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