Arkansas preparing for first execution of a female inmate

VARNER, Ark. - Arkansas officials are preparing for the first execution of a woman in their state in over 150 years and the fifth nationwide since the death penalty ban was lifted nearly a quarter-century ago.

Christina Marie Riggs, 28, is scheduled to die on Tuesday. Like the son she was convicted of killing 2 years ago, she will be given a lethal injection.

Anti-death penalty groups have been fighting to save Riggs - Amnesty International USA on Friday lobbied Gov. Mike Huckabee to grant clemency, and a Huckabee spokesman said the governor is reviewing the case - but Riggs has asked that the execution proceed.

Earlier this year, she dropped all appeals.

Riggs, a nurse, was convicted of suffocating her 5-year-old son in 1997 after injecting him with potassium chloride at their home in suburban Little Rock. She was also convicted of suffocating her 2-year-old daughter.

Prosecutors accused Riggs of killing the children because they kept her from a life she wanted to lead. They said she left the children alone while she competed in karaoke contests and that she had planned their deaths for more than two weeks.

Riggs' lawyer had argued she was suffering from depression. Authorities said she injected herself with potassium chloride after killing the children in a failed suicide attempt.

On Sunday, Riggs was moved from the three-cell death row at the state women's prison to a cell near the state's execution chamber at the all-male Cummins Unit, prison spokeswoman Dina Tyler said.

''Her spirits were fine,'' Tyler said. ''She was cooperative and patient with the process.''


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