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Florida court denies appeal to killer known as 'black widow'

March 27, 1998
Web posted at: 3:05 a.m. EST (0805 GMT)

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (CNN) -- Florida's Supreme Court unanimously ruled not to delay the scheduled Monday execution of Judy Buenoano, known as the "black widow" because she poisoned her husband, and drowned her son and tried to blow up her fiance.

Buenoano is to be put to death in the electric chair at 7:01 a.m. Monday for the arsenic poisoning of Sgt. James Goodyear, three months after he returned to Orlando from Vietnam in 1971.

Buenoano is serving a life sentence for the 1980 drowning of her 19-year-old partially paralyzed son, Michael, and she was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the 1983 attempted car-bombing murder of John Gentry in Pensacola.

Until the car bombing, Buenoano had not been investigated or under suspicion for the earlier deaths of her husband and son.

In Thursday's ruling, the Florida court rejected appeals based on the background of a juror at Buenoano's trial and the work of an FBI chemist.

Buenoano's attorney said she was working on a federal appeal.

Karla Faye Tucker's case had much higher profile

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Florida hasn't executed a woman in 150 years, and only two women have been executed in the nation since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976 after a three year moratorium.

But Buenoano's case has not drawn as much attention as Karla Faye Tucker's execution in Texas earlier this year.

Russell Edgar, who prosecuted Buenoano years ago for her son's drowning, gave her a nickname that stuck.

"I likened her to a black widow who fed off her males and her young."

Buenoano said she has been the victim of "defamation, assassination of character... to make me into a vile monster." Also, she says she is innocent and insists jurors have been swayed by manufactured evidence.


"I would have found myself guilty if I were the jury," she said.

But three separate juries have agreed that Buenoano's motive was money -- to collect life insurance.

Edgar, who calls it "twisted greed," said: "I feel sorry for her surviving children. They're without a father, without a brother and now without a mother, and we lay it all at Judy's feet 'cause she did it."

Correspodent Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.


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