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Texas executes woman convicted of killing man for insurance money

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[February 06, 2014]  By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) Texas executed a woman on Wednesday convicted of leading a plot to kidnap, torture and then beat to death a mentally disabled man to rob him of his cash and collect insurance money.

Suzanne Basso, 59, died at 6:26 p.m. CST (7.26 p.m. ET Thursday) by lethal injection at the state's death chamber in Huntsville, making her the 14th woman put to death in the country since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

In that time, about 1,400 men have been executed, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a monitoring agency.

Basso did not make a last statement, the Department of Criminal Justice said.

Lawyers for Basso filed an application with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking a stay, arguing that she is not mentally competent and should not be executed.

The appeal was denied, without comment.

"She is delusional. She has been diagnosed with at least six different disorders over time," said attorney Winston Cochran Jr., who filed the petition.

Basso was convicted for the 1998 death of Louis "Buddy" Musso, 59. Basso lured the New Jersey man to Texas with the promise to marry him.

Basso, with five others, later beat him and killed him for his money and to cash in on an insurance policy where she was named the beneficiary, according to court documents.

The victim was beaten so severely with baseball bats, belts and steel-toed boots that his body was unrecognizable when it was found in a ditch.

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After Musso's death, police found an insurance policy that would pay $65,000 as a result of violent crime, according to prosecutors.

Lawyers for Basso have argued there was no evidence that proved she was one of the killers.

The execution is the seventh this year in the United States and the 510th execution in Texas, the most of any state after the reinstatement of the death penalty.

(Additional reporting by David Ingram in Washington; editing by Scott Malone, Grant McCool, Tom Brown and Lisa Shumaker)

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