HUNTSVILLE, Texas, Feb. 3 -- Texas prison officials have executed Karla Faye Tucker, the first woman to be put to death in the state of Texas since the CivilWar. The U.S. Supreme Court refused a flurry of appeals filed in the hours leading up to Tucker's lethal injection, and Gov. George W. Bush refused to grant a one-time, 30-day reprieve in the case. Tucker was pronounced dead today at 6:45 p.m. CST. In her final statement, Tucker apologized to the family of victim Deborah Ruth Thornton and told her own family and friends that she loved them. Tucker smiled during her final statement, saying, 'I love all of you very much. I am going to be face to face with Jesus now. Thank all of you so much. You have been so good to me. I will see you when you get there. I will wait for you.' Thornton's husband, Richard Thornton, witnessed the execution and said, 'The world's a better place' as Tucker was put to death. Tucker was sentenced to die for her role in the slayings of Jerry Lynn Dean and Deborah Thornton during a 1983 apartment burglary in Houston. It is one of the most gruesome murder cases in Houston history. Dean died from 28 stab wounds from a pickax, and Thornton's body was found with the pickax stuck in her chest. Tucker bragged about the murders to more than one person, telling several that she received sexual gratification from the murders.
One man testified that Tucker laughed when she saw news reports about the killings. Tucker underwent a religious conversion in prison. Her execution drew worldwide media attention after televangelist Pat Robertson mounted a campaign to have her spared. Pope John Paul II, the United Nations, the European Community and death penalty opponents worldwide made pleas on her behalf. Tucker is the second woman to be executed in the United States since the death penalty was restored this century. She is the first woman executed in Texas since Chipita Rodriguez was put to death for the murder of a horse trader in San Patricio County in 1863. Tucker is the first Texas prison inmate put to death this year. The state executed a record 37 prisoners last year. Tucker is the 145th Texas inmate put to death since the state resumed capital punishment in 1982. ---
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