Frances Elaine Newton
Frances Newton was sentenced to die for the
1987 murders of her husband, Adrian, 23, and
the couple's children, Alton, 7, and Farrah, 21
months. Consistently proclaimed her innocence,
contending her family was killed by drug dealers
to whom her husband owed money. Adrian
Newton, she has said, used and sold drugs, and
often was in fear of his suppliers. Three weeks
before the slayings, Frances Newton took out
$50,000 life insurance policies on herself, her
husband and her daughter. She named herself as
beneficiary and said she signed her husband's
name to prevent him from discovering she had
set aside money to pay for the premiums.
On December 1, 2004 she was granted a stay -
only hours before she was scheduled to die.
On September 14, 2005 Frances Newton, now
40 years old was executed by lethal injection in
Without dissent, the high court declined a pair
of appeals about an hour before Frances was
scheduled to be taken to the Texas death
chamber. She was escorted from the women's
death row to Huntsville, where Texas' execution
facility is placed. By early afternoon, she was at
the death house.
Frances was described as calm but emotional as officials moved
her to the Huntsville Unit, where the punishment was carried out.
"She's doing pretty bad," said one of her lawyers, "I think she was
really expecting to win in the clemency board."
Frances was strapped to the death chamber gurney and with her
parents among the people watching. The Governor rejected
Frances Newton's petition for a 30-day stay at 5:50 p.m. She
declined to make a final statement, quietly saying "no" and shaking
her head when the warden asked if she would like to speak.
Seemingly nervous, she stared blankly at the ceiling. The poisons
were administered at 6:09 p.m. As the drugs began flowing
Frances briefly turned her head to make eye contact with her
family. She appeared to attempt to mouth something to her
relatives, but the drugs took effect. She coughed once and gasped
as her eyes closed and her mouth remained slightly open. She was
pronounced dead eight minutes later at 6:17 p.m.
In the witness room reserved for her relatives, Frances' sister,
Pamela Nelms, cradled her head in her arms, which she had thrust
against a rear wall, refusing to watch. Her parents held hands and
her mother brushed away a tear before they walked to the back of
the chamber to console their other daughter.
In the room occupied by her husband's family, a cousin, began to
weep when it became apparent the drugs had been administered.
Later at a news conference, the cousin said, "I had a rough go in
that room, but not one tear was for Frances. They were for the
kids." She described Frances Newton as a "mean and evil-spirited
" She added that without a confession, Frances' death did
not constitute justice. A confession, she said, "would have put to
rest the lies told about our family."
Having to go to the execution room was a devastating disappointment to Frances.