Women Who Were Given the Death Penalty in the U.S.

List Rules
List includes all women who were executed in the United States since 1976, when the Supreme Court lifted a moratorium on capital punishment.

Women on death row in the United States are rarely executed. In fact, since December 2017, there have been 16 women executed. As of April 2018, there were 55 women on death row.

The stories of these women have a lot in common. Many came from difficult, broken childhoods filled with abuse, rape, and upheaval. Money was sometimes the motive. Others killed slayed men in robberies. But there was also the senseless slaying of children, and other times simply for the sake of cruelty.

Some women claimed they committed their crimes in self-defense, with others saying they were framed or innocent. In many cases, their attorneys argued the women should have been found not guilty for reasons of insanity. But their pleas and appeals were rejected, and the women met their fates.

Photo:

  • Kelly Gissendaner - 2015
    Photo: Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office / Wikipedia / Fair Use

    Kelly Gissendaner - 2015

    Gissendaner was executed by the state of Georgia in 2015 after an extremely controversial trial and sentencing phase. She was found guilty of organizing the slaying of her husband in 1997, hiring her boyfriend, Gregory Owen, to end him. Owen testified against Gissendaner in exchange for a life sentence, while Gissendaner, despite not actually carrying out the operation, faced capital punishment.

    After numerous delays, as well as appeals and pleas for clemency, she was slain by lethal injection. Her own children had appealed for mercy, despite her orchestrating the slaying of their father.

  • Lisa Ann Coleman - 2014

    Texas slayed Lisa Ann Coleman in 2014 after she was found guilty of ending the life of Davontae Williams, her partner’s 9-year-old son, by starving and beating him. Davontae weighed just 35 pounds at the time and had multiple injuries on his body. The cause of his passing was pneumonia and malnutrition. Coleman and Marcella Williams, her girlfriend and the boy's mother, had restrained, beaten, and tortured him, causing a number of infected sores on his wrists and legs and years-old scars. Marcella Williams pleaded guilty and was given life in prison.

  • Suzanne Basso - 2014
    Photo: Texas Department of Criminal Justice / Wikipedia / Fair Use

    Basso was one of six co-defendants found guilty of capital murder, after slaying a 59-year-old mentally disabled man named Buddy Musso to collect his life insurance money. Basso and Musso had been in a long-distance relationship, and Basso successfully convinced him to move from New Jersey to Texas. The slaying was carried over five days in which violent beatings were administered to the man, whose body was found with 17 cuts to his head, cigarette burns, 14 broken ribs, a fractured skull, and a dislocated vertebrae. The body was scoured with a wire brush and drenched in alcohol, then dressed and dumped in Galena Park, Texas. Basso's defense attorneys tried to argue she was mentally unfit for trial, but she was found to be competent and seen by prosecutors as the ringleader of the group. Basso was executed by lethal injection in 2014.

  • Kimberly McCarthy - 2013
    Photo: Texas Department of Criminal Justice / Wikipedia / Fair Use

    Convicted of slaying her elderly neighbor in 1997, McCarthy was a crack-cocaine addict when the deed was committed. Prosecutors alleged she stabbed Dorothy Booth, a retired college professor, and cut off her finger to steal her diamond ring, which she then pawned for drugs. She also stole Booth's purse and used her credit cards.

    After numerous appeals and stays of execution, she became the 500th person executed by Texas after being slain via lethal injection in 2013.