ABC's Good Morning America - Transcript

LISA McREE, Host: As you heard earlier, Karla Faye Tucker's life is now in the hands of the Supreme Court and Texas Governor George Bush. Tucker has confessed to the 1983 pickax murders of Deborah Thornton and Jerry Lynn Dean. But in prison, she became a born-again Christian, and she's expressed remorse for her crime. Joining us now from Austin is Karla Faye Tucker's attorney, David Botsford. Good morning, Mr. Botsford.

DAVID BOTSFORD, Karla Faye Tucker's Attorney: Good morning, Lisa.

LISA McREE: Tell us the state of her appeal right now, please.

DAVID BOTSFORD: We're in before the Supreme Court on two documents. They've been there since late last week. And then, of course, we have the governor.

LISA McREE: Do you expect to hear from the Supreme Court this morning?

DAVID BOTSFORD: I believe we'll hear from the Supreme Court sometime today. I certainly wouldn't be able to suggest when they will rule, but they will rule, I feel confident.

LISA McREE: And if the Supreme Court does not grant her this pardon, do you expect that George Bush -- or the stay of execution, rather, that George W. Bush will step in?

DAVID BOTSFORD: Well, we've asked him to do that, and he has the power to give a 30-day reprieve. It's entirely his decision, and I really can't prognosticate. Given his past track record, I would say no, but the state of affairs is such that he really should give a 30- day reprieve to allow the courts a little bit more time.

LISA McREE: He has nothing to gain, though, politically, in this state by granting this reprieve, does he?

DAVID BOTSFORD: Oh, I disagree with that, Lisa. I think there's a vast amount of support out there. In the polls taken, less than half of Texans want her executed, and those who do are not aware that she has agreed in writing to spend the rest of her natural days in the prison system if in fact she's commuted.

LISA McREE: Tell us about how she's doing this morning. Has she resigned herself to the scheduled punishment, or is she hopeful that she might be granted this stay or at least a reprieve?

DAVID BOTSFORD: Well, no, she's still hopeful that the Supreme Court or the governor will intervene, with God's good grace. And her faith is in the Lord, and she's very confident that He is hand in hand with her wherever she's going.

LISA McREE: Karla Faye married a prison minister, chaplain, is that right?

DAVID BOTSFORD: Yes, Dana Brown, very fine gentleman.

LISA McREE: And how is he doing? How's he holding up?

DAVID BOTSFORD: He's doing great.

LISA McREE: All right.

DAVID BOTSFORD: He is.

LISA McREE: Well, we -- Thank you for joining us this morning on this very busy day, and we will look forward to that Supreme Court decision sometime today, probably...

DAVID BOTSFORD: Thank you, Lisa.

LISA McREE:... either way. All right, thank you.

We continue to examine the Karla Faye Tucker case with Patricia Pearson. She's the author of "When She Was Bad: Violent Women and the Myth of Innocence." And joining us from Houston this morning, Dianne Clements. She's the president of Justice for All, a criminal justice reform group. Six years ago, her young son was shot to death.

And I'm going to begin with you, Ms. Pearson. Why is it that we have such a hard time seeing women be given the ultimate punishment for a crime such as this?

PATRICIA PEARSON, "When She Was Bad": Well, we're very protective of women. We have the idea that, you know, in our society, we protect women and children. And therefore, even though this woman committed an extremely violent crime, she embodies what it is to be feminine. You know, she's very soft-looking, she has a lovely, easy smile, she's charming.

LISA McREE: Beyond dishing out the punishment, is there something in us that doesn't want to believe that she's capable, that she must have been deranged on drugs, or that doesn't want to believe that women are actually capable of these sorts of crimes?

PATRICIA PEARSON: Yes, we have that tendency. We have the tendency to build excuses into our description of women who commit these kinds of crimes. Across the justice system, we also have a tendency to see women as more reformable. So we have a -- we assume that they' re going to be less dangerous, that they're going to become good girls faster than boys are.

LISA McREE: I'm going to turn now to Miss Clements in Houston this morning. Miss Clements, what's your reaction to the Christian right taking up the cause of Karla Faye?

DIANNE CLEMENTS, Justice for All: Well, you know, they were very silent in all of the other inmates who have faced execution and indeed have been executed, who had a religious transformation as sincere and/or real as Karla Faye professes hers is. So I think that they should take up the cause of those who do not profess their religious conversion.

LISA McREE: There has been sort of a split. Some of the national leaders have taken up her cause, but within Texas, and some of the extreme right religious leaders have said, "You know, in the Bible it also says that, you know, you have to take the punishment." And are you...

DIANNE CLEMENTS: That is absolutely correct. Karla Faye Tucker is being punished for the crimes she committed 14 years ago. She is not being punished for who she claims to be today. She was judged, she was sentenced, and it is time for the process to finish.

LISA McREE: Do you think that women -- I'm turning to Miss Pearson now. Do you think that women can be rehabilitated in these situations? Do you think that this argument of "I found God, I'm going to be a better person" really holds true for anyone, women or men?

PATRICIA PEARSON: Sure it does, absolutely, why not? You know, homicide is the lowest re-offense rate of any crime, so, yes, I mean, absolutely, she could have been rehabilitated. The problem is that in Texas on death row, that's irrelevant. So I think it's a really difficult day for all women in America in some ways, because we're watching our protection being taken away from us, our chivalry.

LISA McREE: Final thoughts from you, Miss Clements? 

DIANNE CLEMENTS: Well, I would say Karla Faye Tucker was not very chivalrous when she pickaxed two people to death. And I don't think that the execution of Karla Faye Tucker has anything to do with the lack of protection for women in this country. As a matter of fact, I think it says that we'll protect you no matter who the offender is, man or woman.

LISA McREE: All right. Dianne Clements in Houston, and Patricia Pearson here in New York, thanks so much for joining us this morning.


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