Supreme Court denies Briton's death penalty appeal

Linda Carty is on death row in Texas and may become the first British woman executed since 1955.

By: Carol J. Williams
Los Angeles Times
Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to review the death sentence of a Caribbean-born woman convicted of murder in Texas, clearing the way for the first execution of a British woman in 55 years.

British officials and pro bono lawyers had appealed to the justices to order a new trial for Linda Carty, citing what they said were gross errors by her court-appointed lawyer during the 2001 trial, in which prosecutors said Carty killed her neighbor to steal her newborn son.

Paul Lynch, Britain's consul general in Houston, said Carty would have been provided a more effective lawyer and British government support during her trial had Texas authorities informed Carty of her right to consult with British diplomats.

"We are deeply concerned by the position Linda Carty is now in, and we will be working extremely hard to help her over the coming weeks and months," Lynch said after the justices denied her last appeal.

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals had already dismissed Carty's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and failure to inform her of her rights as a foreign national. Carty, 51, was born in the British territory of St. Kitts and holds British citizenship.

An execution date is expected to be set this summer.

Britain abolished capital punishment in the 1960s. No British woman has been executed since Ruth Ellis was hanged at Holloway Prison in 1955 for murdering her lover, consular officials in Houston said.