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Texas prepares to execute 500th inmate

June 26, 2013 • National News


FILE – This undated file photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows Kimberly McCarthy, who is on death row in Texas for the 1997 killing of a neighbor during a robbery. McCarthy is scheduled to be executed on June 26 and would be the 500th in Texas since the death penalty was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 1976. (AP Photo/Texas Department of Criminal Justice, File)

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — Jim Willett remembers the night of Dec. 6, 1982, when he was assigned to guard a mortuary van that had arrived at the death house at the Huntsville prison.

“I remember thinking: We’re really going to do this. This is really going to happen,” says Willett, who was a captain for the Texas Department of Corrections.

When the van pulled away early the next morning, it carried to a nearby funeral home the body of convicted killer Charlie Brooks, who had just become the first Texas prisoner executed since a Supreme Court ruling six years earlier allowed the death penalty to resume in the United States.

What was unusual then has become rote. On Wednesday, barring a reprieve, Kimberly McCarthy will become the 500th convicted killer in Texas to receive a lethal injection.

The number far outpaces the execution total in any other state. It also reflects the reality of capital punishment in the United States today: While some states have halted the practice in recent years because of concern about wrongful convictions, executions continue at a steady pace in many others.

The death penalty is on the books in 32 states. On average, Texas executes an inmate about every three weeks.

Still, even as McCarthy prepares to die at the Huntsville Unit, it’s clear that Texas, too, has been affected by the debate over capital Login to read more

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