“I would like to say to all of you, the Thornton family and Jerry Dean’s family, that I am so sorry, I hope God will give you peace with this.” Those were the final words of convicted killer Karla Faye Tucker. She was the first woman executed in Texas since the Civil War.
Karla Faye was born in November, 1959. Her parents had a troubled relationship and during their divorce it was learned that she was the result of an extramarital affair. By twelve she was taking drugs and having sex. By the time she was 14, she was following her mother as a rock groupie, and into prostitution. She began to travel with the Allman Brothers Band, The Marshall Tucker Band, and the Eagles.
When she was 21, Karla began hanging out with bikers and met Jerry Lynn Dean and his wife Shawn, who introduced her to Daniel Garrett. The 21 year old Karla began dating the 35 year old Daniel.
June 13, 1983, after a weekend using drugs, Karla and Daniel with one of their friends, James Liebrandt, went to the Dean’s apartment around 3am. Karla had keys that Shawn had lost and used them to get into the apartment. Their intention was to steal a motorcycle that Jerry was restoring.
During the burglary, Karla and Daniel entered the bedroom where Jerry and Deborah were sleeping. Karla sat on top of Jerry, he grabbed her arms to try and protect himself, but Daniel came in, using a ball peen hammer he found, he hit Jerry several times in the head. After hitting him, Daniel left the room.
Karla remained in the room. Jerry was making gurgling noises after being hit, and Karla wanted to “stop him from making that noise.” She picked up a three foot pickaxe that was in the room and began hitting Jerry with it. Daniel re-entered and delivered the final blow in his chest.
When Karla was alone again, she then noticed Deborah Thornton who had hidden in the covers against the wall. Deborah struggled for her life, but Daniel came in and separated the two women. Karla then began to repeatedly hit Deborah, embedding the pickaxe in her heart. Karla would tell people that she experienced multiple orgasms with each blow of the pickaxe.
The bodies of Jerry Dean and Deborah Thornton were discovered the next day. Karla and Daniel would be arrested five weeks later.
Karla and Daniel were indicted for murder and tried separately. Karla testified against Daniel at trial and the charge for the murder of Deborah Thornton was dropped. Daniel was also not charged with Deborah’s murder. During her time in jail waiting for trial, Karla became a Christian and she married her prison minister, Dana Lane Brown by proxy in 1995. They would never be able to kiss.
The death penalty isn’t usually sought for female killers, however, both Karla and Daniel were sentenced to death in late 1984. Daniel would eventually pass away from liver disease in 1993. Karla’s appeals and attempts for a new trial were all denied and her 11th hour appeal to then Governor George W. Bush was denied. On February 2, 1998, she was transported to The Death House. A red bricked facility in Huntsville, TX, where the executions took place. She was pronounced dead at 6.45pm on February 3, 1998.
Karla Faye is buried in Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery in Houston.
Karla Faye’s case brought about many opinions on Capital Punishment. Regardless of the side you stand on, in the case of Karla Faye, did justice prevail? Should her sentence have been commuted?
Be strong, make good choices, be safe