Analysis of Women executed in United States since 1976

Analysis of women executed in the United States since 1976


Drugs – multiple events

Velma Barfield – developed drug addiction via pain-killers, subsequently killed six partners. Apparently reformed in prison, politics involved in clemency decision.

Wanda Jean Allen – low IQ, hit by truck as child – double murder of female partners – domestic violence, she being the abusive partner.

Kimberly McCarthy – crack cocaine addict – multiple murders of elderly under care for financial gain ( presumably to buy drugs ).

Serial Domestic violence murder, MVC

Judy Buenoano – apparently a genuine psychopath – murdered several husbands with arsenic, motive apparently financial. Maintained her innocence – so could examine evidence in detail.

Betty Lou Beets – long history of domestic violence, attempted murder of previous husbands, killed final husband.

Intelligent radical

Lynda Lyon Block – intelligent extreme radical – killed a cop – dubious self-defense claim.

Single event – not “worst of the worst” – financial motive

Karla Faye Tucker – joint felony murder under influence of drugs, did not strike initial blows. Model prisoner, international clemency appeals ignored.

Marilyn Kay Plantz – drug addict, killed husband for money in conspiracy with boyfriend

Teresa Lewis – low IQ – single incident (husband+stepson), alcohol and painkillers, did not carry out murders herself, financial motive

Suzanne Basso – one of six co-defendants convicted in the August 1998 murder of Louis “Buddy” Musso, a mentally retarded man, who was tortured and murdered for his life insurance money

Serial killer

Aileen Wuornos – prostitute – multiple killings ( claimed self-defense ). Possibly a case of mental illness, she apparently hated and was paranoid about men, but also was criminal, and then remorseful ( she fired her lawyers so execution was not delayed ).



Lois Nadean Smith – single murder of her son’s ex-girlfriend, some doubt as to whether son was the more guilty party ( c.f. Michelle Byrom )


By reason of unusual defense

Christina Marie Riggs – severe depression – killed own children then survived own suicide attempt – unjust – mental illness, state-assisted suicide

By reason didn’t kill anyone

Frances Newton – allegedly murdered her own family, terrible legal representation, certainly innocent in my opinion.


Apparently just one genuine psychopath here – Judy Buenoano.

The others can be attributed to “heat of the moment” / drugs / depression etc.

None of these women would be a significant danger to prison staff.

In none of these cases was the death penalty justified.