about the history of the death penalty in Oklahoma and famous cases involving
the execution of women. Oklahoma is tied with Texas for the most female
executions in the nation.
Death sentences and executions of female offenders are rare when compared to
male offenders. Women are more likely to be dropped out of the capital
punishment system the further the case progresses. Women account for:
about 1 in 10 (10%) murder arrests.
only 1 in 50 (2.1%) death sentences imposed at the trial level.
only 1 in 67 (1.8%) persons on death row.
only 1 in 100 (. 9%) persons actually executed in the modern era.
[source: Death Penalty Information Center]
Death Penalty Information
The death penalty law was enacted in 1977 by the state Legislature. The method
is by lethal injection. The original death penalty law in Oklahoma called for
executions to be carried out by electrocution. That law was ruled
unconstitutional as it was administered when the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated
capital punishment in 1976.
Oklahoma executed 176 men and 3 women between 1915 and 2011 at the Oklahoma
State Penitentiary. Eighty-two were executed by electrocution, one by hanging
(a federal prisoner) and 96 by lethal injection. The last execution by
electrocution took place in 1966. The first execution by lethal injection in
Oklahoma occurred on Sept. 10, 1990, when Charles Troy Coleman, who was
convicted in 1979 of first-degree murder in Muskogee County, was executed.
Drugs used for lethal injection:
Sodium Thiopental or Pentobarbital — causes unconsciousness
Vecuronium Bromide — stops respiration
Potassium Chloride — stops heart
2 intravenous lines are inserted, one in each arm. The drugs are injected by
hand-held syringes simultaneously into the two lines. The sequence is in the
order listed above. 3 executioners take part with each 1 injecting one of the
After 2 years in prison, Nannie Doss told reporters she was bored with life
Nannie Doss was sentenced to life in prison in 1955 for the arsenic death of
her 5th husband, Samuel Doss.
“I wish the authorities here would let me be tried in Kansas or North
Carolina,” she said. “Maybe they would give me the electric chair.”
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Oklahoma never executed a
woman in the electric chair. The state did make headlines in 2001, however,
when it executed 3 women by lethal injection in the same year.
Would Doss — who confessed to poisoning 4 of her 5 husbands in 1954 — or other
women convicted of murder decades ago still receive life sentences today?
“Experts have been hesitant to say for sure whether there's gender bias going
on, but certainly women are rarely executed,” said Richard Dieter, executive
director of the Death Penalty Center.
Doss left a trail of murders throughout the South between the 1920s and 1954.
Her proclaimed victims included four husbands, her mother, her sister and a
mother-in-law. Her 1st husband escaped a poisoning attempt. Always cheerful,
Doss was described by the media as the “smiling granny” and “lonely hearts
She confessed to the murders after she was arrested in Tulsa in connection with
the arsenic death of her fifth mate, Samuel Doss.
Nannie Doss pleaded guilty to a murder charge and was sentenced to life instead
of death because a judge thought she was insane, even though medical
evaluations proved otherwise.
Dieter said women who committed these types of crimes in the early 20th century
might have been dealt with outside of the criminal justice system and thought
to be mentally unstable.
(source: The Oklahoman)