Even if she is sentenced to die, she might not be executed — few women are in Florida
By Sarah Lundy
Sentinel Staff Writer
April 26, 2009
In the past 82 years, 16 women were singled out to receive Florida's ultimate punishment: the death penalty.
These women killed their husbands. Or they killed cops. Half a dozen of them murdered multiple people. Some killed during robberies and murder-for-hire schemes. One tortured and killed her young son.
This month, prosecutors announced they are seeking the death penalty for Casey Anthony, an Orange County mother charged with first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, Caylee Marie.
With Florida's death-row history, experts say prosecutors face an uphill challenge in convicting Anthony, sending her to death row and keeping her there.
Of the 16 women initially ordered to die by state execution, the lives of 13 have been spared when their sentences were vacated or commuted to life on appeal.
Death-penalty expert Victor Streib said there are fewer women on death row across the country because fewer women commit murder. Only about one in 10 murders is committed by a woman.
Those killings usually don't rise to the level of death-penalty cases — ones considered especially heinous, ones committed by violent habitual offenders or those committed during another crime, said Streib, a law professor at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio.
Society sees women as the "source of life," Streib said, and there is a general urge to protect them. Juries could be biased, finding it harder to condemn a woman to death than a man. But there are exceptions, he conceded.
Florida has executed two: Judy "The Black Widow" Buenoano in 1998 and Aileen Wuornos in 2002.
Florida currently has 392 death-row inmates.
Only one is a woman.
On March 30, 1998, officials strapped the 54-year-old 'Black Widow' to the electric chair, making her the first woman in Florida to be executed. Twice before, her death warrants were stayed. She was sentenced to die in 1985 for the 1971 arsenic poisoning of her husband in Orange County. In 1980, she drowned her paralyzed son in Santa Rosa County and was sentenced to life. Two years earlier, she poisoned her common-law husband in Colorado.
On Oct. 9, 2002, Wuornos was executed. She was ordered to die for the 1989 shooting death of a Clearwater businessman. The former Volusia County prostitute confessed to killing seven men as she hitchhiked along Florida's highways.
Cole is the only woman on death row. On March 6, 2008, she was sentenced to death for her part in the murder of a Jacksonville couple. She and three men kidnapped the couple, demanded their ATM numbers, then buried them alive in 2005. Two co-defendants also received the death penalty. The third testified against the others and received 45 years in prison.
Oct. 10, 1926
Hall and another man killed her husband. Sentence commuted in 1929; freed from prison by early 1935.
Feb. 1, 1927
Jackson stabbed her husband to death. Sentence commuted in September 1927. She was freed by early 1936.
McCollum fatally shot a doctor. The state Supreme Court reversed her sentence in 1956. Sent to state mental hospital for 20 years before her release in 1974.
Irene Laverne Jackson,
April 24, 1962
Jackson killed her husband for insurance money. In 1964, after a new trial, she was convicted of second-degree murder and given life in prison. She was paroled in 1972.
Dec. 6, 1968
Arrington was sentenced to die for killing the secretary of the Lake County public defender. She previously was convicted of manslaughter in the death of her husband but later escaped from prison. She was captured in Marion County. In 1972, her death sentence was commuted to life. She is at Lowell Annex in Marion County.
Sonia Jacobs, Broward County
Jacobs was sentenced to die for her part in killing two law-enforcement officers. But in 1981 her sentence was changed to life in prison. In 1992, her case was reversed on appeal. She pleaded to second-degree murder and was sentenced to time served in prison. She was released Oct. 9, 1992.
Jan. 27, 1987
Sentenced to die for killing her mother's employer during a robbery, Dudley in 1989 was resentenced to life in prison with a 25-year minimum. She is housed at Lowell Correctional Institution in Marion County.
Carla Caillier, Hillsborough County
March 19, 1987
Sentenced to die for killing her husband, Caillier was resentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 25 years in 1988. She was moved to a prison out of state for her own safety, according to Department of Corrections officials.
Sept. 16, 1987
Casteel paid two men to kill a woman after the woman asked about her missing son, whom Casteel had ordered killed a month earlier. In 1991 she was resentenced to life in prison. She died at Broward Correctional Institution in 2002.
Sept. 13, 1990
Hunt took part in the fatal shooting of two men with whom she was involved in a murder-for-money scheme. In 1998 she was resentenced to life in prison. She's housed at Homestead Correctional Institution in Miami-Dade County.
Feb. 10, 1984
Jackson shot a Jacksonville police officer five times when he tried to arrest her for filing a false report. Her death warrant was signed in 1989 but was stayed two months later by the Florida Supreme Court. She was resentenced to life in 2000. She's at Lowell Correctional Institution in Marion County.
March 3, 1992
Cardona and her lover beat and tortured her 3-year-old son, whose 18-pound body was found on Miami Beach. The boy was often tied to the bed, locked in a closet or left in the bathtub in very cold or hot water. Cardona won an appeal in 2002 and a new trial, which is expected to begin this summer. She's at the Miami-Dade County Women's Detention Center.
May 11, 1993
Sentenced to die for her part in killing her husband, Larzelere was resentenced to life in prison in 2008. She is serving her time at Lowell Annex in Marion County.