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Woman executed in Texas for 1998 torture killing

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From page A6 | February 06, 2014 | 20 Comments

Texas Execution

This handout image provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows capital murder defendant Suzanne Basso. On Wednesday, Feb 5, 2014 Basso, 59, was executed for for the torture slaying of Louis “Buddy” Musso, a mentally impaired man near Houston more than 15 years ago.(AP Photo/Texas Department of Criminal Justice)

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A woman convicted of torturing and killing a mentally impaired man she lured to Texas with the promise of marriage was put to death Wednesday evening in a rare execution of a female prisoner.

The lethal injection of Suzanne Basso, 59, made the New York native only the 14th woman executed in the U.S. since the Supreme Court in 1976 allowed capital punishment to resume. Almost 1,400 men have been put to death during that time.

Before being put to death, Basso told a warden, “No sir,” when asked to make a final statement. She appeared to be holding back tears, then smiled at two friends watching through a nearby window. She mouthed a brief word to them and nodded.

As the drug took effect, she began to snore. Her deep snoring became less audible and eventually stopped.

Basso was pronounced dead at 6:26 p.m. CST, 11 minutes after the lethal dose of pentobarbital began.

She was sentenced to die for the 1998 slaying of 59-year-old Louis “Buddy” Musso, whose battered and lacerated body, washed with bleach and scoured with a wire brush, was found in a ditch outside Houston. Prosecutors said Basso had made herself the beneficiary of Musso’s insurance policies and took over his Social Security benefits after luring him from New Jersey.

The execution, the second this year in Texas, came about an hour after the Supreme Court rejected a last-day appeal from Basso’s attorney who argued she was not mentally competent.

Lower federal courts and state courts also refused to halt the punishment, upholding the findings of a state judge last month that Basso had a history of fabricating stories about herself, seeking attention and manipulating psychological tests.

Leading up to her trial, Basso’s court appearances were marked by claims of blindness and paralysis, and speech mimicking a little girl.

“It was challenging, but I saw her for who she was,” said Colleen Barnett, the former Harris County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Basso. “I was determined I was not going to let her get away with it.”

Basso’s attorney, Winston Cochran Jr., argued she suffered from delusions and that the state law governing competency was unconstitutionally flawed.

Her lawyer said a degenerative disease left her paralyzed, but Basso, who used a wheelchair, blamed her paralysis on a jail beating years ago. At a competency hearing two months ago, she testified from a hospital bed wheeled into a Houston courtroom and talked about a snake smuggled into a prison hospital in an attempt to kill her.

But she acknowledged lying about her background, including that she was a triplet, worked in the New York governor’s office and had a relationship with Nelson Rockefeller.

She originally was from the Albany and Schenectady areas of New York.

Prosecutors said Musso was living in New Jersey when he met either Basso or her son at a church carnival, then moved to Jacinto City, east of Houston, with an offer of marriage. Evidence showed Basso was already married but took over Musso’s benefits and insurance.

An autopsy showed Musso had several broken bones, including a skull fracture and 14 broken ribs. His back was covered with cigarette burns, and bruises were found all over his body.

Basso became a suspect after reporting Musso missing following the discovery of his body. Five others also were convicted, including Basso’s son, but prosecutors only sought the death penalty for Basso.

“Suzanne ran the show for sure. … She was the one in charge. She directed them. She wanted the money,” Barnett said. “She’s a heinous killer.”

Among witnesses testifying at Basso’s punishment trial was her daughter, who told of emotional, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her mother.

About 60 women are on death row in the U.S., making up about 2 percent of the 3,100 condemned inmates. Texas, the nation’s busiest death-penalty state, now has executed five women and 505 men.

The last woman executed in Texas before Basso was Kimberly McCarthy, who was put to death last June for killing her neighbor near Dallas and cutting off the 71-year-old victim’s finger to steal her wedding ring.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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Discussion | 20 comments

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  • CD BrooksFebruary 06, 2014 - 8:25 am

    "Deep in the heart of Texas." Women in Texas don't have a chance on either side of the law. Texas, the den of Conservative demons.

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  • LonghornFebruary 06, 2014 - 8:30 am

    CD, you are just making that up. Keep your silly comments confined to the "Golden State." Texas prospers, California sinks faster and faster into left wing oblivion.

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  • CD BrooksFebruary 06, 2014 - 9:15 am

    Longhorn, your assertion is disingenuous at best. Since you believe that "Texas prospers," then you should know what's going on there and in other Conservative run states. I am 100% correct.

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  • LonghornFebruary 06, 2014 - 11:47 am

    CD: you ignore or disregard the mountain of data that proves Texas is light years ahead of California in every meaningful area. It galls you that your beloved Democrats can't grab power and raise taxes, kill jobs, and disrespect individual rights there. Too bad for you. Hook 'em!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksFebruary 06, 2014 - 12:21 pm

    Longhorn, what galls me is that Texas DOES disrespect individual rights and is attempting to take them away. That's the epitome of backwater denial of common decency.

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  • ArachneFebruary 06, 2014 - 12:18 pm

    CD I've read your letters to the editor over the years and now your fact-deficient comments. You are a nasty, sad little individual who now, through the use of "comments" can annoy an even larger audience with your fact-deficient, overly dramatic screeds.

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  • CD BrooksFebruary 06, 2014 - 12:26 pm

    Arachne, you may disagree all you like that's the beauty of conversation. But you're going to have to go a ways to prove deficiency in my fact-finding. Do the work before you run your mouth. Remember, context is king.

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  • CD BrooksFebruary 06, 2014 - 12:31 pm

    Arachne, I'm sorry. I'm not nasty or sad. I usually remind the trolls here that you should be so lucky to be living my life!

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  • Puddin TaneFebruary 06, 2014 - 2:33 pm

    CD, a bit of advice: don't feed the trolls (as RLW reminded me after I foolishly threw crumbs at STR). It is a waste of time, unless you like having high blood pressure. As for Longhorn, I believe there is a famous quote from "Full Metal Jacket" about things that come out of Texas, and I don't think steers can type, though you do have a lot of manure. Speaking of things fertilizer is made out of, did y'all fix those pesky lack of regulations (like zoning) so that y'all don't have another factory explode in a residential areas?

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  • Puddin TaneFebruary 06, 2014 - 2:34 pm

    Or is business still a "boomin"?

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  • CD BrooksFebruary 06, 2014 - 3:52 pm

    PT, thank you! But I LOVE this stuff! I take the offending comments and gripes no worries. But they never come back with an argument because there isn't one! Texas and 20+ other states have the same ign*rant social disease.

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  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3joKJx2z68gFebruary 06, 2014 - 4:45 pm

    Backpacking and Hammock Camping on Vulture Island......I vote for exiling CD to Vulture Island Texas.....a perfect place for a Dirty Old Bird.

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  • LonghornFebruary 06, 2014 - 1:18 pm

    Why are jobs moving from the once Golden State of California to the Lone Star State of Texas? Why are the best and the brightest moving from Chicago and Detroit to Austin and Houston and Dallas? Why are Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and Illinois losing congressmen in 2012 while Texas gains four? Why is it that Texas is growing while the other big states in America are flat or flat-out broke? it’s simple: Texas got it right!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895February 06, 2014 - 3:11 pm

    For the same reason US jobs have moved to China.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • LonghornFebruary 06, 2014 - 1:22 pm

    One day, a very gentle Texas lady, returning from Church and visiting a sick friend, was driving across a high bridge in Austin. As she neared the top of the bridge, she noticed a young man fixin' ("fixin" in Texas means: has the means or abilities to take action) to jump.... She stopped her car, rolled down the window, and said, "Please don't jump! Think of your dear mother and father." He replied, "My mom and dad are both dead; I'm going to jump." She said, "Well, think of your sweet wife and precious children." He replied, "I'm not married, and I don't have any kids." She said, "Well, then you just remember the Alamo." He replied, ''What's the Alamo?'' She replied, ''Well bless your heart ...just go ahead and jump, you dumb liberal Yankee Sum*!@#!''

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • LonghornFebruary 06, 2014 - 1:32 pm

    And last, for CD, in the words of the great Davy Crockett: "...you may all go to hell and I will go to Texas." It's warm, there, CD.

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  • LonghornFebruary 06, 2014 - 7:12 pm

    “I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion. And this is true to the extent that people either passionately love Texas or passionately hate it and, as in other religions, few people dare to inspect it for fear of losing their bearings in mystery or paradox. But I think there will be little quarrel with my feeling that Texas is one thing. For all its enormous range of space, climate, and physical appearance, and for all the internal squabbles, contentions, and strivings, Texas has a tight cohesiveness perhaps stronger than any other section of America. Rich, poor, Panhandle, Gulf, city, country, Texas is the obsession, the proper study, and the passionate possession of all Texans.” ― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

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  • SavetheRepublicFebruary 06, 2014 - 8:06 pm

    Michael Savage recommended Travels with Charlie on his radio show today.

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  • RalphFebruary 06, 2014 - 10:38 pm

    this story brings me back to the worst exp. ever, A person with not a care in the world..lives life on a cloud, hope to make her mark on this world before her time. Some one should check her before she hurt more.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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