Jeff Smith, NBC 5 News
District Attorney Craig Watkins says Kimberly McCarthy's execution, scheduled for Wednesday, should be delayed while lawmakers consider legislation that would improve the fairness of the death penalty.
A judge has just ruled that convicted murderer Kimberly McCarthy won't be put to death on Wednesday, as scheduled.
The judge said he still needs to wait until Monday afternoon to see what the state's Court of Criminal Appeals decides with regard to a motion to stay the execution until the end of June. If the court doesn't rule by Monday, the judge will approve his own ruling.
It's rare to see a district attorney join forces with a defense attorney to try and stop an execution, but that's exactly what happened inside a Dallas courtroom Friday morning.
District Attorney Craig Watkins said he firmly believes Kimberly McCarthy is guilty of brutally murdering her elderly neighbor, 71-year-old Dorothy Booth, in 1997.
But he also said he truly feels that racial bias played a role in jury selection during the 2002 trial, and it played a role in the decision to sentence McCarthy to die.
"In general, our justice system deals with issues of race. And if you think that it doesn't, then I feel sorry for you," Watkins said.
McCarthy, who is black, was convicted by a jury with just one black member.
Watkins wants to delay the execution until June because the state legislature is currently considering six separate bills concerning capital punishment. Those bills cover everything from jury selection to what testimony should be allowed in death penalty trials.
The judge agreed in principle to delay McCarthy's execution date, but is waiting for further clarification from the Court of Criminal Appeals.
Watkins said he doesn't want to put anyone to death with lingering questions and judicial inequality and racial bias. He said that betrays the public's trust and faith in the judicial system.
No woman has been put to death in this country in the last three years.
NBC 5's Ken Kalthoff contributed to this report.