The three name curse strikes again with Karla Faye Tucker, known for being the first women executed in the U.S. since 1984 (she was eventually executed in 1998), and the first in Texas since 1863. Tucker played the “I’m a murderer and turn to Jesus in prison and publicly talk about it to gain sympathy” card for all it was worth. Which, is a big change from the woman who claimed to have multiple orgasms from killing. This ignited a media fire storm that prompted many to protest her impending execution. Several days before her execution, George W. Bush, the then-governor of Texas blocked the final appeal.
Born into a troubled home in Houston, Texas, Tucker started smoking cigarettes at age 8 and by age 12 was already into drugs and sex. After her parents divorced, her mother became a rock groupie. Tucker married a local mechanic when she was 16 and was divorced soon after.
In her early twenties, Tucker started hanging out with a rough group of bikers. Some friends introduced her to a man named Danny Garrett. They started dating soon after. On June 3, 1983 at 3 a.m., after a night of drinking and doing drugs,Tucker, Garrett, and a friend, James Leibrant entered the home of Jerry Dean with the intent to steal his Harley Davidson. Dean was the estranged husband of Tucker’s best friend, whom she disliked.
Tucker went into the bedroom where Dean was sleeping. She sat on him while Garrett and Leibrant searched the house. Dean grabbed Tucker which led to Garrett hitting him in the head with a hammer he found on the floor. The blow caused Dean’s neck to become unhinged and distorted his breathing. Tucker was fed up and irritated with his ragged breathing, found a pickaxe (presumably at Dean’s home), and hit him in the throat with it. She later said took the ax to his neck to “stop him from making that noise”. Dean them finished him off with a hammer to the chest.
Garrett left the bedroom and went to finish loading up the motorcycle. It was then Tucker discovered a woman, Deborah Thornton, who had been with Dean the previous day. She’d been hiding in the room the while Dean was murdered. She was also killed by Tucker with a pickaxe to the heart.
In September 1983, Garrett and Tucker were tried and convicted for the two murders. Both were sentenced to death. Garret died in prison in 1993. While behind bars, Tucker became a born-again Christian. She married the prison paster in 1995. Between 1984-1992, several appeals and a retrial were requested unsuccessfully. Tucker tried to get her death sentenced overturned because she was on drugs at the time of the murder.
On February 3, 1998, after eating a last meal of a banana, peach, and a garden salad with ranch, Tucker was executed by lethal injection in Huntsville, Texas.
While Tucker’s death sentence was not overturned, her execution brought about a huge capital punishment debate. Many blamed a pre-poncho battling Dubya for her death. He was criticized for allowing a woman to be executed. And not just a woman, one who was reformed and born-again. Since the 1976 reinstatement of the death penalty in the United States, only 16 women (11%) have been executed. 6 out of 11 have all been executed in Texas. The last was Kelly Gissendaner in 2015 in Georgia.