(CBS/AP) HUNTSVILLE, Texas - Kimberly McCarthy, the first woman scheduled to be executed in the U.S. since 2010, won a reprieve Tuesday. It came only hours before she was to be taken to the Texas death chamber.
State District Judge Larry Mitchell, in Dallas, rescheduled McCarthy's execution for April 3, 2013 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 prosecutors, who initially contested the motion to reschedule, chose to not appeal the reprieve.
District Attorney Craig Watkins said the 60-day delay was "appropriate." If no irregularities are discovered, he said he'd move forward with the execution.
"We want to make sure everything is done correctly," he said.
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. She was 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."
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.
Investigators said Booth had agreed to give McCarthy a cup of sugar before she was attacked with a butcher knife and candelabra. Booth's finger also was severed so McCarthy could take her wedding ring. It was among three slayings linked to McCarthy, who'd been addicted to crack cocaine.
McCarthy would have been the 13th woman executed in the U.S. and the fourth in Texas, the nation's busiest death penalty state, since the Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976. In that same time period, more than 1,300 male inmates have been executed nationwide.
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