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 Texas.
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 person. 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.