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Texas executes woman for murder

A woman convicted of torturing and killing a mentally impaired man she lured to Texas with the promise of marriage was put to death Wednesday evening in a rare execution of a female prisoner.

The lethal injection of Suzanne Basso, 59, made her only the 14th woman executed in the U.S. since the Supreme Court in 1976 allowed capital punishment to resume. Almost 1,400 men have been put to death during that time.

Basso told a warden, "No sir," when asked to make a final statement. She appeared to be holding back tears, then smiled at two friends watching through a nearby window. She mouthed a brief word to them and nodded.

As the drug took effect, she began to snore.

Basso was pronounced dead at 0026 GMT, 11 minutes after the lethal dose of pentobarbital began.

She was sentenced to die for the 1998 slaying of 59-year-old Louis "Buddy" Musso, whose battered and lacerated body, washed with bleach and scoured with a wire brush, was found in a ditch outside Houston. Prosecutors said Basso had made herself the beneficiary of Musso's insurance policies and took over his Social Security benefits after luring him from New Jersey.

The execution, the second this year in Texas, came about an hour after the Supreme Court rejected a last-day appeal from Basso's attorney who argued she was not mentally competent.

Lower federal courts and state courts also refused to halt the punishment, upholding the findings of a state judge last month that Basso had a history of fabricating stories about herself, seeking attention and manipulating psychological tests.

Basso's attorney, Winston Cochran Jr., argued she suffered from delusions and that the state law governing competency was unconstitutionally flawed.

About 60 women are on death row in the U.S., making up about 2 per cent of the 3,100 condemned inmates. Texas, the nation's busiest death-penalty state, now has executed five women and 505 men.

The Canadian Press

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