A former nurse who asked for the death penalty for drugging and suffocating her two children was executed by injection Tuesday in Arkansas’ first execution of a woman in more than 150 years.
Christina Marie Riggs, 28, was the fifth woman executed in the United States since the Supreme Court lifted a ban on capital punishment in 1976.
She had withdrawn all appeals and chose not to seek clemency from Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Riggs told authorities that she intended to use potassium chloride--the same heart-stopping drug used in executions--to kill her children, 5-year-old Justin and 2-year-old Shelby Alexis, in 1997.
She gave the children an antidepressant in hopes it would make them drowsy, then injected Justin with the potassium chloride.
When Justin began crying, Riggs told police, she injected him with morphine left over from a hospital patient and smothered both children. Riggs then took 28 antidepressant tablets, intending to commit suicide.
The children were found dead in Riggs’ bed. Riggs was found on the floor.
Initially, Riggs’ mother and lawyer said she suffered post-traumatic stress after working as a nurse in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing. The matter was soon dropped and never came up at her trial.
Riggs worked at the Veterans Administration hospital in Oklahoma City from 1990 to July 1995, but the hospital said she was not sent to the scene of the April 1995 bombing. She later worked at the Arkansas Heart Hospital.
Riggs pleaded with the jury in 1998 to give her the death penalty, saying: “I want to be with my babies.”
Prosecutors told jurors that Riggs’ children had become an inconvenience to her. They said she left the children by themselves while she competed in karaoke contests and had plotted their deaths for weeks.