State of Texas Executes Suzanne Basso

On the same day that an El Paso County jury rejected the death penalty in the capital murder trial of Christian Martinez, the State of Texas carried out its second execution of the year, putting Suzanne Basso to death  for the 1998 murder of Louis “Buddy” Musso.  Basso was convicted in 1999 in Harris County.  Prosecutors accused her of luring Musso, an intellectually disabled man,  to Texas after meeting Basso and her son, J.D. O’Malley in  New Jersey.  Five co-defendants, including O’Malley, were convicted of playing a role in the murder.

Attorneys for Suzanne Basso failed to present any mitigating evidence during the penalty phase of her trial and conducted virtually no investigation into her background. Had they done so, they would have uncovered pervasive evidence of her impoverished and abusive childhood, including sexual abuse at the hands of relatives.  The jury also did not hear about Basso’s long history of delusional thinking and mental illness.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review issues presented in a final death-day appeal (“Woman executed for 1998 murder of mentally handicapped man,” February 5, 2014).  That appeal asked the Court to review the constitutionality of Texas’ statute regarding competency to be executed.

Basso was the fifth woman to be executed in Texas since 1982 and the 14th nationwide.  There currently are seven women on death row in Texas.  You can read more about her case from the Guardian.

Seven executions have taken place to date in the United States this year.