Basso

Skirting the Constitution: Texas rules Basso competent for execution


Texas set to execute woman for ‘horrible, horrible, horrible’ torture killing

UPDATE : february 4, 2014 (AP)

Texas: 2 courts won’t block woman’s execution

A federal judge has joined Texas’ top criminal court in refusing to stop this week’s scheduled execution of a woman condemned for the torture slaying of a mentally impaired man more than 15 years ago outside Houston.

U.S. District Judge Sim Lake on Monday turned down an appeal from 59-year-old Suzanne Basso hours after Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected a similar appeal. She’s set for lethal injection Wednesday evening in Huntsville.

Basso’s attorney contends she is mentally incompetent for execution for the slaying of 59-year-old Louis “Buddy” Musso.

Additional appeals to delay her punishment are likely headed into the federal appeals courts.

Basso would be the 14th woman executed in the U.S. and the 5th in Texas since the Supreme Court in 1976 allowed capital punishment to resume.
Basso’s attorney asked the court to reverse a ruling last month that Basso is competent to be executed for the slaying of 59-year-old Louis “Buddy” Musso at a home in Jacinto City, just east of Houston.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Monday rejected an appeal from 59-year-old Suzanne Basso. She’s set for lethal injection Wednesday evening in Huntsville.

30 january 2014

If the state of Texas goes through with the planned execution on Feb. 5 of Suzanne Basso, it will be executing a delusional woman with scant understanding of why she’s to be put to death, attorney Winston Cochran Jr. argues in a request for sentence commutation filed this month with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Indeed, Cochran argues that evidence of Basso’s mental health issues was never provided to the jurors who sentenced her to die in 1999 – because no mitigation investigation was ever done and no mitigation evidence was provided to jurors. “Executing Basso would bring discredit upon the Texas judicial system by demonstrating that constitutional protections necessary in death penalty cases are not protected,” he wrote in the BPP filing.

Given the BPP’s history, it is not a stretch to imagine that Basso will be denied clemency or a reprieve in order to allow Cochran to pursue additional appeals – since 2007, the BPP has recommended clemency just 4 times out of the 129 death cases it has considered.

Basso was condemned for the gruesome beating death in 1998 of Louis “Buddy” Musso. According to the state, Basso lured Musso, a 59-year-old intellectually disabled man, to Texas from New Jersey by promising to marry him and then, with 5 other people – including her son – abused Musso, beatings that left his body covered in bruises from head to toe, before he was finally killed by a series of brutal blows to the head, as part of a scheme to collect insurance money and Musso’s other assets.

Cochran has argued that there is no evidence that Basso was the one who actually killed Musso and that because the jury was not asked to find that she was a party to the crime – a theory under which all actors share culpability – her conviction is invalid. Several courts have denied Basso’s appeals, including a district court ruling Jan. 15 in Houston, which found that Basso is competent to be executed.

Basso will be the 8th woman put to death in Texas since the mid-1800s, the 2nd inmate executed this year, and the 510th executed since reinstatement of the death penalty.

(source: Austin Chronicle)

RELATED ARTICLE  SUZANNE BASSO

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TEXAS -SUZANNE MARGARET BASSO EXECUTION SET FEB. 5, 2014 EXECUTED 6.26 PM


HOUSTON (July 24, 2013)–State District Judge Mary Lou Keel has set a Feb. 5, 2014 execution date for Suzanne Basso, 59, who’s held on women’s death row in Gatesville.

Suzanne Basso (Texas prison photo)

In July of 1997, 59-year-old Louis “Buddy” Musso, the victim in this case, first met either [Basso] or her son, James “J.D.” 0′ Malley, at a church carnival in New Jersey.

Musso, though mentally retarded, lived independently, held a job at a local grocery store, and handled his own financial affairs. In June of 1998, Musso left New Jersey to live with [Basso] in Jacinto City, Texas. Shortly after Musso moved in with [Basso], Al Becker, Musso’s Social Security representative payee and friend of twenty years, began having difficulty contacting Musso. Becker had numerous telephone conversations with [Basso], but [Basso] eventually refused to allow him to communicate directly with Musso. Concerned about Musso’s welfare, Becker sought assistance from various state agencies, but was not able to gain any further information about Musso’s situation. In July of 1998, [Basso] unsuccessfully attempted to designate herself as Musso’s representative payee of his Social Security benefits. On an application for a life insurance policy on Musso, [Basso] was named beneficiary, and she had described herself as Musso’s “wife to be.”

After Musso’s death, police found certificates of insurance for policies in Musso’s name, including one that provided $65,000 in the event of Musso’s death from violent crimes. They also discovered a document entitled Musso’s “Last Will and Testament,” which purported to leave Musso’s entire estate to [Basso] while “no one else [was] to get a cent.” In the days leading up to his death, Musso suffered tremendous abuse at the hands of [Basso] and her five co-defendants. [Basso] would take Musso to the apartment of co- defendants Bernice Ahrens, Craig and Hope Ahrens (Bernice’s son and daughter), and Terence Singleton (Hope’s fiancé), where Musso was forced to remain seated or in a kneeling position on a plastic mat in the hallway for hours.

Whenever Musso attempted to get off the mat, O’Malley would beat or kick him. O’Malley, Singleton, Bernice, and Craig beat Musso, and O’Malley, while wearing combat boots, kicked him repeatedly. [Basso] beat Musso with a baseball bat on the buttocks, back, and groin area, and both she and Hope struck him with a belt and buckle. After hearing that Musso had been “misbehaving” while she was away from the apartment, [Basso], who weighed over 300 pounds, repeatedly jumped on top of Musso while he was on his hands and knees, causing him to fall flat on the ground.

At one point, Musso requested that someone there call an ambulance. Even though Hope, as she later admitted,recognized the extent of Musso’s injuries, he received no medical attention. Someone (the evidence suggests either O’Malley or Singleton and Craig) bathed Musso in a solution of bleach and Pine- Sol cleaning fluid, using a wire brush on his body.

Apparently, his killers were giving Musso this kind of “bath” when he died.

On the morning of August 28, 1999, Musso’s body was found dumped near a roadway in Galena Park. Because Musso’s clothes lacked any blood stains, and his only shoe was on the wrong foot, investigators believed that his body had been dressed after he died.

The medical examiner reported an extraordinary number of injuries to Musso’s body and was unable to count the “hundreds” of bruises that covered Musso from head to toe.

The palms of Musso’s hands and the soles of his feet were bruised, while his back and buttocks showed numerous lash marks indicative of his having been whipped. Musso’s severely blackened eyes resulted from a “hinge fracture” to his skull, which probably was caused by a blow to the back of the head. He had sustained broken bones in his nose, ribs, and throat. Marks on his back appeared to be cigarette burns, but may have been caused by a hot poker, and the medical examiner noted areas of skin abrasion possibly attributable to contact with a cleaning solution or scrub brush.

The cause of death was believed to have been a skull fracture from an unknown object, which left a large, X-shaped laceration in Musso’s scalp. On the evening before Musso’s body was discovered, [Basso] began what evolved into a lengthy attempt to establish that Musso had run away.

She made several phone calls to people, including Becker, a niece of Musso’s, and the local police, expressing concern about Musso’s whereabouts. [Basso] claimed that Musso probably had run away with a “little Mexican lady” that he had met at a laundromat and said that she was “getting kind of worried” about him. In a written statement to police, [Basso] later confessed to having driven Bernice Ahrens’s car, with Musso’s body in the trunk, to the site where O’Malley, Singleton, and Craig Ahrens dumped the body. She also admitted driving the car to the dumpster where the others disposed of additional incriminating evidence, including bloody clothes and rubber gloves, which the police had found as a result of O’Malley’s confession.

UPDATE CLICK HERE