The execution of a 51-year-old black woman in Texas has been temporarily stayed to allow lawmakers time to debate legislation on how juries are selected in the US state, officials said.
Kimberly McCarthy had been scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection on Wednesday following her conviction for the brutal 1997 murder and robbery of a 71-year-old neighbor.
McCarthy’s execution had already been stayed once in January.
She won an additional reprieve until June 26 after Dallas County prosecutors sought to allow time for various bills to be debated.
“When I sign a death warrant in Dallas County, I want the public to trust that the inmate who was sentenced to death by a jury received a fair trial,” Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins said in a statement.
“The proposed legislation being reviewed at the Texas capitol can impact that.”
McCarthy was sentenced to die in 1998 after conviction by a jury comprised of 11 white jurors and one African American.
Richard Dieter, director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said the ongoing legislation examining how juries are chosen in Texas could affect McCarthy’s case.
“Even the prosecutor agreed, so all the parties agreed on this decision. They want to wait for the State to examine a law regarding unfairness in trials that would require a better jury selection,” he said.
“If this law passed it would have an effect on her case.”
Only 12 women have been executed since the United States Supreme Court allowed the death penalty to resume in 1976. The last woman to be executed was Teresa Lewis, put to death in September 2010 in Virginia.
Texas has executed three women since 1976 out of a total of nearly 500, but nine others remain on death row.