Woman's Texas execution to proceed
State parole board denies clemency
February 2, 1998
Web posted at: 6:58 p.m. EST (2358 GMT)
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HUNTSVILLE, Texas (CNN) -- Pickax killer Karla Faye Tucker lost her bid for clemency on Monday when the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles ruled against the former drug-using prostitute turned born-again Christian who is due to die by lethal injection on Tuesday.
Tucker's last hope of avoiding the death penalty lies with the U.S. Supreme Court.
If the execution is carried out in the death chamber at the Huntsville Unit of the Texas Department of Corrections, Tucker, 38, would be the first woman executed in Texas since 1863 and only the second in the United States since the Supreme Court in 1976 allowed capital punishment to resume.
Sentenced to death for murdering two people in a Houston apartment in 1983, Tucker contends she is a changed woman who has found God and can serve as a resource for others if her death sentence is changed to life in prison.
Parole board members began considering Tucker's plea for clemency -- which means leniency or mercy -- last week.
But given the panel's recent history, even a single vote from the 18-member panel in favor of clemency for a condemned murderer would have been unusual.
Tucker would have needed at least 10 votes, because Gov. George W. Bush may commute -- change -- a death sentence only if a majority of the board recommends it. The board unanimously rejected 16 similar requests last year.
Texas law gives governors little independent authority in such cases, with the power to issue only a one-time, 30-day reprieve.
In their appeal to the Supreme Court, Tucker's lawyers contend the Texas process for commuting a prison sentence is unconstitutional in part because of the consistent lack of
Lawyers argued there are no guidelines for deciding commutation requests and no public hearings where inmates can appear.
A federal judge on Monday rejected Tucker's request to stay her Tuesday execution until her lawsuit against Texas clemency procedures was resolved.
U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks said in his decision that there is "no constitutional right to clemency under federal law." Tucker's appeal to the Supreme Court is still pending.