Texas has executed one woman as eight other await their fate. The woman, who was convicted of a mentally-impaired man’s torture and killing, was executed by lethal injection at the death house in Huntsville, Texas.
Suzanne Basso, a New York native, was the 14th woman executed in America since the 1976 Supreme Court ruling which allowed capital punishment to resume. Roughly 1,400 men have been executed during the same time period.
When Basso was strapped to the gurney, after the IVs were connected, the warden asked if she had any last words. Appearing to hold back tears, she softly said, “No sir.” Noticing two friends watching through a window into the death chamber, Basso smiled slightly at them and mouthed a brief word as she nodded in their direction.
As the lethal dose of pentobarbital entered her bloodstream, Basso closed her eyes and began to snore. As witnesses watched, her deep snoring became more shallow and less audible and finally stopped. She was declared dead at 6:30 p.m., 11 minutes after the drug was given.
Sentenced to die for the 1998 slaying of Louis “Buddy” Musso, Basso had made herself the beneficiary of Musso’s insurance policies. After luring him to Texas from New Jersey, under the pretext of marriage, she also took control of his Social Security benefits.
Musso, 59 at the time of the slaying, was found in a ditch outside Houston. The battered body had been washed with bleach and attempts to clean it with a wire brush had been made. The viciousness of the crime led the Texas attorney general to execute the first woman in fourteen years.
Numerous courts, including the US Supreme Court, had rejected repeated appeals. Her attorney had continually argued that Basso was not mentally competent. The courts upheld earlier findings of a state judge that Basso had a history of lying about herself, seeking attention and manipulating psychological tests.
In the weeks before her trial, Basso’s court appearances included claims of blindness and paralysis and she often spoke as though mimicking a small child. Her attorney, Winston Cochran, Jr., claimed she suffered from delusions and the Texas law governing competency was flawed to the point of being unconstitutional.
Basso claimed her paralysis was the result of a beating in jail years ago. Her attorney though said she was paralyzed from a degenerative disease. In a competency hearing in December, 2013, Basso claimed that a snake had been smuggled into the prison hospital in a failed attempt to assassinate her.
Musso was a New Jersey resident when he met Basso and her son at a church carnival. When Basso proposed marriage, Musso moved to Jacinto City, east of Houston. Despite already being married, Basso took over Musso’s benefits and insurance.
An autopsy on Musso’s remains showed he had suffered several broken bones, including a fractured skull and over a dozen broken ribs. Cigarette burns and bruises covered his body as well. Basso waited until the body was found before reporting him missing in an attempt to distance herself from the murder.
Among witnesses who testified at Bass’s punishment trial was her daughter. Giving a tearful testimony, the daughter told of emotional, sexual and physical abuse at the hands of her mother.
As Texas executes the first woman in fourteen years, there are still eight females waiting their date with destiny.
By Jerry Nelson