HUNTSVILLE, Texas, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Texas is preparing to execute Suzanne Basso, 59, on Wednesday, making her the 14th woman to be executed in the United States since capital punishment resumed in 1976.
Basso was one of six co-defendants convicted of torturing and killing Louis "Buddy" Musso, a mentally impaired man, in August 1998.
The Texas Court of Appeals rejected an appeal Monday, as did the 5th U.S. Circuit of Appeals on Tuesday, clearing the way for her to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Basso's attorneys argued, unsuccessfully, that she lacks the understanding of her crime, and that her mental health issues were never properly presented to the jury at her trial.
"Executing Basso would bring discredit upon the Texas judicial system by demonstrating that constitutional protections necessary in death penalty cases are not protected," wrote attorney Winston Cochran Jr., writing for her commutation to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, where the clemency petition remains active.
Since 2007, the BPP has recommended clemency only four times in the 129 capital sentences it has reviewed.
Basso was convicted of luring Musso, a 59-year-old mentally disabled man, to move to Texas from New Jersey on the promise she would marry him. Then, according to prosecutors, she led a group of five other people to beat him to death in a scheme to collect his life insurance and other assets.
Musso was beaten with belts, baseball bats, and kicked with steel-toed boots, leaving him bruised beyond recognition. His body had been bathed in bleach and other cleaning products and scrubbed with a wire brush, with broken ribs and a fractured skull, when it was discovered next to a road in Harris County.
In addition to declaring Basso competent to be executed, appeals courts also rejected her attorney's argument that there is no evidence proving Basso actually dealt the fatal blow.
If the execution goes forward as scheduled, Basso will be the 510th inmate executed in Texas since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, but just the state's eighth woman since the mid-1800s.
[KWTX] [Austin Chronicle] [Houston Chronicle]