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Texas woman’s execution halted; DA won’t appeal

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A Texas woman won a reprieve from the death chamber Tuesday, mere hours before she was scheduled to be the first woman executed in the U.S. since 2010.

State District Judge Larry Mitchell, in Dallas, rescheduled Kimberly McCarthy’s punishment for April 3 so lawyers for the former nursing home therapist could have more time to pursue an appeal focused on whether her predominantly white jury was improperly selected on the basis of race. McCarthy is black.

Dallas County Assistant District Attorney Shelly Yeatts, who initially contested the motion to reschedule, said she would not appeal the ruling.

The 51-year-old McCarthy was convicted and sent to death row for the 1997 stabbing, beating and robbery of a 71-year-old neighbor. She learned of the reprieve less than five hours before she was scheduled for lethal injection, already in a small holding cell a few feet from the death chamber at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Huntsville Unit.

“I’m happy right now over that,” she told prison agency spokesman John Hurt. “There’s still work to be done on my case.”

Hurt said McCarthy was in good spirits and “didn’t seem tense or nervous” even before she learned she would live.

A Dallas County jury convicted her of killing neighbor Dorothy Booth at the retired college psychology professor’s home in Lancaster, about 15 miles south of Dallas.

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