Betty Lou Beets

Executed February 24, 2000 by Lethal Injection in Texas

18th murderer executed in U.S. in 2000
616th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
4th female murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
9th murderer executed in Texas in 2000
208th murderer executed in Texas since 1976
2nd female murderer executed in Texas since 1976

Since 1976
Date of Execution
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder-Execution)
Date of
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder)
Date of
Method of
to Murderer
Date of
Lethal Injection
Betty Lou Beets

W / F / 46 - 62

Jimmy Don Beets

W / M / 46

.38 Handgun
5th Husband
at DOC

On Aug. 6, 1983, Betty Lou Beets reported her husband, retired Dallas fireman Jimmy Don Beets, missing from their home near Cedar Creek Lake, in Henderson County, Texas. Jimmy Don's boat was found drifting near the Redwood Beach Marina on Cedar Creek Lake on Aug. 12, 1983. In the boat authorities found Jimmy Don's fishing license, his nitroglycerine tablets and a life jacket. Almost two years passed before the Henderson County Sheriff's Department received information from a credible confidential informant that indicated Jimmy Don's death may have resulted from foul play. Beets's son, Robert Branson, told authorities his mother informed him that evening she intended to kill Jimmy Don; instructing him to leave the residence while she did so. Branson said that he returned approximately two hours later to find Jimmy Don dead from two gunshot wounds and that he helped Beets conceal the body in an ornamental "wishing well" in the front yard of their house. Branson also said that the day after the murder, Beets placed some of Jimmy Don's heart medication in his boat while he removed the propeller. The two then abandoned the boat in Cedar Creek Lake. A search warrant at the residence uncovered the body. Additionally, the remains of Doyle Wayne Barker, another former husband of Beets, were found buried under a storage shed in the back yard. Two bullets were found in Jimmy Don's remains, and three bullets were found in Barker's remains. All five bullets were identified as .38 caliber projectiles; the same caliber as a pistol seized from the Beets residence during an unrelated incident. Beets' daughter, Shirley Stenger, told detectives that she had assisted her mother in burying the body of Barker in Oct. 1981, after Beets had shot and killed him. Various other witnesses testified at trial concerning Beet's attempts to collect life insurance and pension benefits after Jimmy Don's death.

Beets v. State, 767 S.W.2d 711 (Tex.Cr.App. 1987) (Direct Appeal).
Beets v. Johnson, 180 F.3d 190 (5th Cir. 1999) (Habeas).
Beets v. Scott, 65 F.3d 1258 (5th Cir. 1995) (Habeas) .
Beets v. Collins, 986 F.2d 1478 (5th Cir. 1993) (Habeas).

Final / Special Meal:

Last Words:

Internet Sources:

Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Executed Offenders (Betty Lou Beets)

Inmate: Betty Lou Beets
Date of Birth: 3/12/37
TDCJ#: 810
Date Received: 10/14/85
Education: 10 years
Occupation: Cashier / Waitress
Date of Offense: 8/6/83
County of Offense: Henderson
Native County: North Carolina
Race: White
Gender: Female
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Brown
Height: 05' 02"
Weight: 118 lb
Prior Prison Record: None

Texas Attorney General Media Advisory


AUSTIN - Friday, February 11, 2000 - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Betty Lou Beets who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m., Thursday, February 24th:


On Aug. 6, 1983, Betty Lou Beets reported her husband, retired Dallas fireman Jimmy Don Beets, missing from their home near Cedar Creek Lake, in Henderson County, Texas. Beets's son, Robert Branson, later told authorities his mother informed him that evening she intended to kill Jimmy Don; instructing him to leave the residence while she did so. Branson said that he returned approximately two hours later to find Jimmy Don dead from two gunshot wounds and that he helped Beets conceal the body in an ornamental "wishing well" in the front yard of their house. Beets then called the police.

Branson said that the next day, Beets placed some of Jimmy Don's heart medication in his boat while he removed the propeller. The two then abandoned the boat in Cedar Creek Lake. Later that day, the search for Jimmy Don commenced. Members of the Henderson County Sheriff's Department, Texas Parks and Wildlife agents and numerous fire department employees searched unsuccessfully for three weeks. However, Jimmy Don's boat was found drifting near the Redwood Beach Marina on Cedar Creek Lake on Aug. 12, 1983. In the boat authorities found Jimmy Don's fishing license, his nitroglycerine tablets and a life jacket. Beets was summoned to the marina where she identified the boat and its contents as the property of her husband. Jimmy Don's body was not found.

Almost two years passed before the Henderson County Sheriff's Department received information from a credible confidential informant that indicated Jimmy Don's death may have resulted from foul play. The investigation resumed in the spring of 1985, culminating when Rick Rose, an investigator for the sheriff's department, obtained an arrest warrant for Beets. Beets was apprehended by officers of the Mansfield Police Department on June 8, 1985, and booked into the Henderson County jail. While Beets was in custody, Rose secured an evidentiary search warrant for the Beets residence and its premises. Jimmy Don's remains were found buried in the front yard, under the "wishing well." Additionally, the remains of Doyle Wayne Barker, another former husband of Beets, were found buried under a storage shed in the back yard. Two bullets were found in Jimmy Don's remains, and three bullets were found in Barker's remains. All five bullets were identified as .38 caliber projectiles; the same caliber as a pistol seized from the Beets residence during an unrelated incident.

Both Branson and his sister, Shirley Stegner, revealed to investigators that Beets had confided to them at the time of the murder her plan to kill Jimmy Don. In addition, Stegner told detectives that she had assisted her mother in burying the body of Barker in Oct. 1981, after Beets had shot and killed him. Various other witnesses testified at trial concerning Beet's attempts to collect life insurance and pension benefits after Jimmy Don's death, as well as her successful sale of Jimmy Don's boat almost a year after his death.


On July 11, 1985, Betty Lou Beets was indicted for the capital offense of the murder of Jimmy Don Beets for remuneration and the promise of remuneration. Beets was tried in the 173rd District Court of Henderson County before a jury upon a plea of not guilty. On Oct. 11, 1985, the jury found Beets guilty of the capital offense. At a separate punishment hearing on Oct. 14, 1985, the trial court sentenced Beets to death.

Beets's conviction and sentence were automatically appealed to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. In its original opinion, the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed Beets's conviction for capital murder, finding that murder committed for the purpose of obtaining insurance and pension benefits did not constitute murder for remuneration, as defined by the Texas Penal Code. On Sept. 21, 1988, after the State requested a rehearing of the case, the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Beets's conviction and sentence. The United States Supreme Court denied her petition for writ of certiorari on June 26, 1989. The trial court then scheduled Beets's execution for Nov. 8, 1989. On Oct. 16, 1989, Beets filed a motion for a stay of execution to allow her time to prepare and file a state habeas corpus application. On Nov. 1, she filed a state habeas petition and the trial court stayed her execution to permit adequate time to consider the claims raised. On June 27, 1990, the Court of Criminal Appeals denied habeas relief.

On Sept. 20, 1990, the trial court scheduled Beets's execution for Dec. 6, 1990. On Sept. 25, 1990, Beets filed a second petition for writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court denied certiorari on Nov. 26, 1990. On Dec. 3, 1990, less than three days before her scheduled execution, Beets filed her federal petition for writ of habeas corpus and an application for stay of execution in federal district court. The federal district court granted a stay of execution on Dec. 4, 1990. On Jan. 22 and 23, 1991, and April 1, 1991, the court conducted an evidentiary hearing and, on May 9, 1991, entered final judgment granting relief on one of Beets's claims, and denying all others. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Beet's claims, but reversed the judgment of the district court on the one claim granted relief on March 18, 1993, and remanded the case to the federal district court. On remand, Beets's one remaining claim was addressed by the district court, and on Sept. 2, 1998, habeas corpus relief was denied. On appeal, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of relief on June 28, 1999. Beets's motions for panel rehearing and rehearing by the en banc court were denied on Aug. 18, 1999. The Supreme Court denied Beets's petition for certiorari review on Jan. 18, 2000.


Betty Lou Beets admitted that she previously had been convicted of public lewdness, which apparently occurred when she was in Charlie's Angels Bar, a Dallas bar, where she was then employed but was not working when the incident occurred. Beets testified that she "auditioned" that night, without specifying what type of audition it was for: "Well, it's a topless place but I wasn't topless." Beets also admitted on cross-examination that she had been convicted of another misdemeanor offense that resulted when she shot another former husband, Bill Lane, in the side of the stomach.

DRUGS AND/OR ALCOHOL - There was no evidence of drug or alcohol use connected with the instant offense.

Betty Lou Beets, a cashier and waitress, was convicted of the August 1983 shooting death of her fifth husband at the couple's home near Gun Barrel City in East Texas in what authorities said was a scheme to collect over $100,000 in insurance benefits and a $1200 per month pension. His body was found buried under a wishing well in their front yard. Jimmy Don Beets was a Dallas firefighter who disappeared on Aug. 6, 1983. His fishing boat was found drifting on Lake Athens. She is called a Black Widow because she was also charged but never tried for the 1981 murder of a previous husband, Doyle Wayne Barker, who was found buried behind a tool shed on the same day Jimmy Don's body was found. Beets had also shot and wounded her second husband.


"Texas Executes Betty Lou Beets for Husband's Murder." February 24, 2000)

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (CNN) -- Texas on Thursday evening executed a 62-year-old woman, who supporters say was driven to kill her husband by years of domestic abuse. Betty Lou Beets, convicted of murdering her husband in 1983, was put to death by lethal injection at 6:18 p.m. CST at a state prison in Huntsville, Texas. Beets' attorneys exhausted their last legal recourse about an hour before the execution, when Gov. George W. Bush declined to stop it. Bush's decision came just minutes after the U.S. Supreme Court declined a request by Beets' attorneys to step into the case. Beets declined a final meal and did not make a final statement before the execution.

"She's very scared," Beets' attorney Joe Margulies had told CNN earlier in the day. "She doesn't want to be strapped down to that gurney all alone." A federal appeals court on Thursday afternoon denied a motion to stop the execution. In its ruling, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld a lower court ruling issued Wednesday rejecting a plea from Beets' attorneys that her case be re-examined by Texas officials because she was a battered wife.

Beets is only the fourth woman executed in the United States since the Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976. Karla Faye Tucker was the first woman executed in Texas since the Civil War, when she was put to death on February 3, 1998, for a 1983 pickax murder. Beets, who had five children, nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, is the oldest person put to death in Texas since the state resumed executions in 1982. Texas, which leads the nation in capital punishment, has now executed 208 people since then.

Beets was convicted of murder for the 1983 shooting death of Dallas fire captain Jimmy Don Beets, her fifth husband, in what prosecutors said was a scheme to collect his life insurance and pension. She also had been convicted of shooting and wounding her second husband, and charged -- but never tried -- in the 1981 shooting death of her fourth husband.

'All my mama's life, she's been abused'

In Austin, U.S. District Judge James Nowlin said the motion to stop the execution, filed as part of a lawsuit seeking to have Beets' case reviewed because she was a battered wife, was "yet another example of a prisoner attempting to delay execution just prior to the execution date." The judge also dismissed the lawsuit, which argued that Beets' civil rights were violated because she was not given a chance to present evidence that she suffered years of domestic abuse in her five marriages. On Tuesday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, dominated by Bush appointees, rejected Beets' pleas for a 180-day reprieve and commutation of her sentence.

Beets' legal team and a coalition of supporters including domestic-violence awareness groups and Amnesty International USA wanted her death sentence commuted to life in prison. They said Beets, who has been in jail since 1985, was damaged both physically and psychologically and that she had poor legal counsel because the jury that sentenced her to die was not told about the abuse. "Betty's daughters went to (a previous defense attorney) ... and gave him pictures of Betty taken after she had been beaten up, horribly battered," Margulies said. "Had he looked, he could have amassed the information that we eventually got ... and asked the (parole) board to review, but they declined. "What we're saying is, 'Give us the opportunity to present our evidence on battering that the jury didn't hear.'" Beets' daughter, Faye Lane, told the parole board Tuesday: "All my mama's life, she's been abused. I've seen it with my own eyes. And I know that if the jury heard the truth about my mama, she only could have done something like this if she'd been very scared or threatened. "I'm not saying that my mother should go free, but to be allowed to live out her remaining years in prison."

Letters to Bush

Two U.N. experts on human rights had appealed to Bush in a letter Thursday to spare Beets from execution. Asma Jahangir and Radhika Coomaraswamy of the U.N. Commission on Human rights expressed their concern that "abuse and extreme violence" suffered by Beets were not considered by the investigating authorities or the courts when convicting and sentencing her for murder. The two U.N. officials urged Bush to consider the specific circumstances of the crime, "and in particular the violent abuse which Betty Lou Beets suffered at the hands of her spouses and the effect of this abuse on her state of mind and her actions." In another letter Wednesday, the group Human Rights Watch had called on Bush to grant Beets a 30-day reprieve, with senior researcher Allyson Collins citing "a perfect opportunity for Governor Bush to display his much-touted conservative compassion."

Bush, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, had said he would not decide what action to take until the matter had run its course in the courts. "The question I'm going to ask is, 'Is she guilty of the crime?'" said the governor, who returned to Austin late Wednesday. Texas has carried out 120 executions since Bush took office in January 1995 -- the latest on Wednesday night when Cornelius Goss, 38, was put to death for a 1987 murder. Bush has never granted a 30-day reprieve, but he commuted one death penalty to life in prison, citing flimsy evidence against the inmate.

'I don't remember what happened '

The bodies of Beets' fourth and fifth husbands were found under a wishing well in the yard of her mobile home at Gun Barrel City, Texas. They had been shot in the head, execution-style. Prosecutors say she murdered Jimmy Don Beets, a Dallas fire captain, but she says she doesn't know how her husband was killed. "I wouldn't willingly do that," Betty Lou Beets said in a death row interview. "But I don't remember what happened then ... it's just a blank to me." (Correspondent Charles Zewe The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.)


BETTY LOU BEETS: Grandmotherly Victim, or the "Black Widow"?

"I really believe that to kill me is to tell every battered woman and child, every abused woman and child that there is not a chance, that there is no end but death, that we can't fight back." -Betty Lou Beets

On Feb. 24, 62-year-old Betty Beets is scheduled to be only the second woman to be executed by the State of Texas (after Karla Faye Tucker) since the Civil War. She was convicted for the 1983 murder of her fifth husband, Jimmy Don Beets. Prosecutors claimed that she killed him for a $100,000 insurance policy. She claims she killed him because she was a victim of abuse (though she originally tried to blame two of her children for the murder).

"Her long history of abuse, beginning as a child and continuing throughout adulthood, it certainly sounds like she suffered from battered women's syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder." -Bree Buchanan of the Texas Council on Family Violence

Beets had never heard of "battered women's syndrome" when she was tried for her husband's murder, but she's embracing it now. She insists that if the jury had known the extent of the abuse she'd lived through (she says her attorney had photos of her but chose not to present them at the trial) they'd never have condemned her to death, if indeed they'd have convicted her at all. To be sure, her life has been difficult, beginning with a rape at age five. It's very likely that she was abused by most of her seven husbands. And no doubt she believes that women should be taught to stand up for themselves against domestic abuse. But it's also true that she's fought back more than most: She's been indicted (though never tried) for the murder of her fourth husband, Doyle Wayne Barker, whose body was found buried outside of her home (near the body of Jimmy Don Beets); and in 1972, she shot her second husband in the back of the head (he survived), and was allowed to plead guilty to misdemeanor assault.

"My time is running out and the state of Texas will pick up where my husband left off. While the Texas law enforcement out there did nothing to help me, it is now legal for them to finish the job." -Betty Lou Beets

Feb. 16 Update: Death penalty opponents claim that Texas Governor George W. Bush is refusing to grant Beets clemency for political reasons because he wants to present himself as being tough on crime. In fact, though, there have been over 100 executions in Texas while Bush was Governor, and clemency has only been granted once: in a case where the inmate had been shown to be innocent.

Feb. 18 Update: A lawyer for Betty Beets has filed suit against the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, claiming they were obligated under state law to give special clemency consideration to battered women convicted of killing family members.

Feb. 22 Update: The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles denied her clemency request.

Feb. 23 Update: A Federal judge denied her motion for a stay of execution. Beets's lawyers claimed she'd been denied her civil rights because she hadn't been permitted to testify at her trial about being abused by her husbands. U.S. District Judge James Nowlin left little doubt about his feelings when he called the motion "yet another example of a prisoner attempting to delay execution just prior to the execution date."

Feb. 24 Update: Bush returns to Texas to consider Beets's case; and, no doubt, the political implications of any decision he makes.

Feb. 24 Update: About an hour before the scheduled execution, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene. Minutes later, Governor Bush declined to grant a stay. Beets was put to death at 6:18 CST.

Evil Divas

Bleached blonde barmaid Betty Lou Beets seemed to be very unlucky in her choice of husbands. Out of the five, four disappeared without trace and the other (number 3) left her after she planted a bullet in his back after a nasty fight. When husband number 5 appeared to have drowned in a fishing accident poor Betty was distraught, as were his colleagues at the local fire department especially when his body could not be found in the relatively small lake where the accident was assumed to have occurred. Betty Lou at least had the wishing well he had dug for her in the yard of her trailer in rural Texas to remember him by. The insurance payout which she claimed almost as soon as he disappeared also helped her to come to terms with her loss. Unfortunately, suspicions were raised within the local police and investigations centering on the bottom of the lovingly constructed well revealed husband number 5 wrapped in a sleeping bag and with a bullet lodged in his brain. Husband number 4 then turned up in a matching bag underneath the patio. On 27 February 2000 she achieved the dubious distinction of becoming the 21st century's first female execution in America when she was injected with a cocktail of lethal drugs at Huntsville Prison, Texas. It is not believed that she was wrapped in a sleeping bag for burial.


"Black Widow’ Executed Great-Grandmother Is 4th Female Inmate to Die in U.S. Since 1976," by Geraldine Sealy.

Betty Lou Beets, a great-grandmother convicted of murder in the death of her fifth husband, was executed by lethal injection tonight. ( Despite pleas by battered women’s groups and death-penalty opponents, great-grandmother and convicted murderer Betty Lou Beets has been executed in Texas. The 62-year-old so-called Black Widow, convicted of killing her fifth husband, lost her final hope at a reprieve yesterday when both the U.S. Supreme Court and Texas Gov. George W. Bush declined to stop the execution. Beets died at 6:18 p.m. local time at the death house in Huntsville, Texas, 10 minutes after lethal drugs began coursing through her body. As she lay on the gurney in the death chamber, Beets declined an invitation to make a final statement, prison officials said. As she waited for word of a reprieve, Beets wrote letters, read the Bible, and visited with the chaplain in the holding cell near the death chamber, according to a prison spokesman.

Beets is only the second woman to be executed in Texas since the Civil War and the fourth in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. Shortly before the execution, Bush released a statement explaining his decision not to step in: “After careful review of the evidence of the case, I concur with the jury that Betty Lou Beets is guilty of this murder. I’m confident that the courts, both state and federal, have thoroughly reviewed all the issues raised by the defendant.” Bush could have offered a one-time 30-day reprieve. Both the Supreme Court and a federal appeals court had rejected Beets’ plea for a reprieve earlier today.

Battered Wife or Black Widow?

Beets’ lawyers and supporters — a coalition of death-penalty opponents and battered women’s advocates — had appealed in recent weeks to Texas authorities for a stay to allow for a review of her case. Some supporters protested outside the death house before, during, and after the execution. Beets never confessed to killing Jimmy Don Beets, her fifth husband, in 1983. But his body was found buried under a planter in her front yard, along with the body of Mrs. Beets’ fourth husband, Doyle Barker. Both men had been shot and their bodies stuffed in blue sleeping bags. Beets and her supporters maintained the jury that sentenced her to die in 1985 for killing Jimmy Don Beets for insurance money did not hear all the evidence. For example, the panel never considered, they said, that she was abused both physically and sexually from a young age and by all her husbands. But a member of the jury who condemned Beets said in a recently penned letter to Bush — released by the governor’s office today — that the panel made the right decision. “She knew that her actions would cause Jimmy’ s death. She did it for the insurance money. She continues to be a threat to society,” wrote juror Connie Harrington. At a press conference outside the death house, the son of Jimmy Don Beets expressed his satisfaction that the state had taken Betty Lou Beets’ life. “I ask that God be with her family,” James Beets said. “Now she knows what we feel like.”

Gov., Courts, Board Reject Plea

But her supporters pointed to the fact that Beets was convicted before “battered women’s syndrome” was widely used as a defense in courtrooms — and before states began commuting sentences of victims of domestic violence. Since 1991, more than 100 imprisoned battered women from 20 states have had their sentences commuted. “[Jurors] didn’t know they were dealing with a battered woman who had been abused since she was 5,” Sister Helen Prejean, a death-penalty opponent made famous by the movie Dead Man Walking, said on ABCNEWS’ Good Morning America. Prejean said she was “appalled” by the case. “They condemned her to death without knowing that,” she said. Beets was also the victim of ineffective counsel, her advocates said. And, she was never granted a review of her case, as mandated by a 1991 Texas legislative order that requires the parole board to reconsider the sentences handed down in murder cases involving domestic violence. Beets’ attorneys filed suit against the parole board and prison system, claiming her rights were violated because she was denied the review under the 1991 mandate. But U.S. District Judge James Nowlin on Wednesday threw out the lawsuit, saying it was just another example of an inmate trying to delay execution at the last moment. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans and the Supreme Court also rejected the lawsuit today.

Two Executions in Two Days

On Tuesday, the Texas Board of Paroles and Pardons had already refused to grant a reprieve or commute her sentence. The panel’s chairman said Beets had never confessed or shown remorse for her actions and did not show enough evidence that domestic violence caused her to commit the crime. Beets was the second inmate to die in Texas in two days. Cornelius Goss, convicted in the bludgeoning death of a 66-year-old man during a house burglary in Dallas almost 13 years ago, was executed on Wednesday. Since Bush took office five years ago, 121 inmates have been executed. The Republican governor and presidential candidate has only stopped one execution, citing flimsy evidence.

APBNews Online

"Texas Executes 'Black Widow;' Bush Rejects 62-Year-Old's Last-Minute Appeal." (Feb. 24, 2000)

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) -- A 62-year-old woman was executed by injection tonight after Gov. George W. Bush rejected her claim that she killed her fifth husband in self-defense and deserved a reprieve. Betty Lou Beets became the fourth woman to be executed in the United States since the Supreme Court in 1976 allowed the death penalty to resume. She was the second woman executed in Texas since the Civil War. She gave no final statement as she lay strapped to the death chamber gurney. She made no eye contact with the victim's family but smiled at relatives watching through a window at her side. She continued smiling as she slipped into unconsciousness. Death penalty opponents and domestic violence organizations had urged Bush to grant Beets a 30-day delay, arguing it would be consistent with his description of himself as a "compassionate conservative" in his presidential campaign. The delay was Bush's only option because the state parole board did not recommend that her sentence be commuted to life in prison. During his 5 1/2 years as governor, 120 convicted killers have been executed in Texas. He has spared one condemned inmate.

'I concur with the jury'

"After careful review of the evidence of the case, I concur with the jury that Betty Lou Beets is guilty of this murder," Bush said in a written statement after returning to Texas from California, where he was campaigning for the Republican nomination. "I'm confident that the courts, both state and federal, have thoroughly reviewed all the issues raised by the defendant." Beets and her lawyers insisted the former bartender-waitress, convicted of fatally shooting fifth husband Jimmy Don Beets nearly 17 years ago and burying his body under a flower garden, was the victim of years of domestic abuse and should be allowed to live. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans today rejected an appeal that accused the state of not following its own rules in reviewing Beets' case. The arguments were dismissed Wednesday by a federal judge in Austin as a delay tactic. Beets' lawyers also took the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court, which rejected it without comment.

Callers opposed execution

According to the governor's office, Bush had received 2,108 phone calls and letters opposing Beets' execution by this afternoon, and 57 calls and letters favoring it. "A decision to stay the execution of Ms. Beets would demonstrate your compassionate conservatism and that you are willing to do what is right even in the face of potential criticism from your constituents," the Rev. Jesse Jackson wrote Bush today. Steven Hawkins, executive director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, implored to Bush grant a reprieve "so evidence of her being battered ... may be fully evaluated." "Far from receiving careful consideration, the role of domestic abuse in Betty's crime has been continually swept under the rug by the Texas court system," Hawkins said.

Follows Karla Faye Tucker Before Beets, the last woman executed in Texas was Karla Faye Tucker on Feb. 3, 1998. Tucker hacked two people to death with a pickax but said she had a religious conversion in prison and appealed for mercy. Bush was criticized for mocking Tucker in a magazine interview last year. Beets was the ninth convicted killer and the second in as many days to be executed in Texas, the nation's most active death penalty state. She spent this morning meeting with relatives. She declined to request a final meal. Although Beets insisted she was innocent, a jury convicted her of killing Jimmy Don Beets, a Dallas Fire Department captain, to collect his life insurance and pension. Her claims of domestic abuse surfaced only recently and were not a factor in her 1985 trial, although one of her daughters, Faye Lane, in a tearful plea for her mother's life, said this week her mother was acting in self-defense after years of abuse. "I know that if the jury heard the truth about my momma; she only could have done something like this if she'd been very scared or threatened," Lane said.

Two other husbands shot James Beets, the murder victim's son, discounted claims of abuse, saying she told friends her husband of 11 months had been the best thing to happen to her. "Why is she saying what she is saying about my daddy?" James Beets said. Beets -- dubbed the "black widow" by prosecutors -- also was convicted of shooting and wounding her second husband, Bill Lane, and was charged but never tried in the 1981 shooting death of her fourth husband, Doyle Barker. Acting on a tip two years after Jimmy Don Beets was reported missing from a fishing trip, authorities found his body buried under a wishing well flower garden in the yard of their trailer home. They also discovered nearby in another shallow grave the body of Barker, who had been missing for four years. Both had been shot in the back of the head and stuffed into blue sleeping bags. Beets blamed a son for Jimmy Don Beets' death. The son denied any involvement and testified against her. Beets explained Barker's disappearance by saying he left one day and never returned. She blamed husband No. 2, Lane, for Barker's death. The Catholic bishops of Texas, longtime opponents of the death penalty, asked Bush this week to follow the lead of Illinois and suspend executions. Bush has refused.

European Coalition to Ablish the Death Penalty

In Memorium - Betty Lou Beets

Bettie Lou Beets, a 62-years-old great grandmother, was executed by the State of Texas on February 24, 2000 after being abused, physically, mentally and emotionally by various men in her life since early childhood. Despite of all the reports she gave the police, which clearly demonstrated the terrorizing conditions she was living under, nobody ever cared to handle the situation before it was too late. Beets became the 4th woman to be killed by the state in the United States since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976 and the 1st. by the State of Texas since the 1998 execution of Karla Faye Tucker

"I really believe that to kill me is to tell every battered woman and child, every abused woman and child that there is not a chance, that there is no end but death, that we can’t fight back. It doesn’t have to be this way and God help us all if it happens this way".

Bettie was abused all her life in one way or an other, ever since she was three, since her earliest memories. She was physically, mentally and emotionally abused since her first memories. As an adult and mother she was literally held hostage and threatened with guns being held to her head - in her own home by a very violent man for a year and a half. She filed numerous reports of domestic abuse to the police, but Bettie was not taken serously before it was too late. Because of hearing-empairment, she was learning disabled since school. She got married at 15 and had 6 children. When her husband left her and the children after 17 years, she suffered further humiliation because she had no scooling, no training, nor could she communicate properly because of the hearing-empairment. She turned to alcoholism and went from one abusive relationship to the other. On one occasion, she was dragged out on the field, and almost strangled, raped, and told she could scream as much as she liked, because there were no one there to hear her screams. Bettie was sentenced to death for the tragic murder of her 5. husband. Because she couldn't hear, she didn't know what was going on during trial. There were no speakers, nobody told her what was happening and her attorney has later been charged for co-operation with the prosecution. It was never brought to the jury's attention that Bettie was deaf, and that she could only understand parts of what was going on. All of her story was available to the courts, her attorney at trial and the state, none of it was told and the jury didn't get to hear any of it While on death row for women in Texas, Bettie went through humiliation all over again. She - as the others - was being stripped searched daily, which according to Bettie brought back childhood nightmares. In segregation she was threatened almost daily that if she didn't pull it together she would be moved to The Treatment and Evaluation Center and placed on suicide watch status. Then when it was determined she was not suicidal she would be brought back to segregation to finish her owed time.

Barnes & Noble Books

"Buried Memories: The Chilling True Story of Betty Lou Beets, the Texas Black Widow," by Irene Pence. Mass Market Paperback, 320pp. ISBN: 0786012633 Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation Pub. Date: March 2001.

News Reports and Updates re: Betty Lou Beets

CCADP - Betty Lou Beets Homepage

"From Darkness to Light ; A Battered Woman's Story from Texas Death Row," by Bettie Lou Beets.

Time is running out. While this story of part of my life is true and is mine, it can be told in whole or part by the hundreds and thousands of women across our country. So, there is not only my story but our story. We as battered women have got to stand up and say, "It has to stop." The abuse of our children and of us women, the domestic violence has to stop. At the same time we must ask ourselves, "When and how? When will it end?" Mine will end soon.

If there are those of you out there who don’t recognize my name, you will soon for the state of Texas seeks my life. I’ve lived on women’s death row for 14 years in the state of Texas. My time is running out and the state of Texas will pick up where my husbands left off. While the Texas law enforcement out there did nothing to help me, it is now legal for them to finish the job. Records will reflect the many times I filed against him until I gave up on them helping me. I wanted to believe they would help then; I want to believe they won’t kill me now. My trust is in Jesus and I need your prayers for myself, for the many abused children, the battered women who don’t know what to do, for the many children who are paying the cost of what we are going through.

Time is running out.

I can now understand how these things happened to me, but I couldn’t then, just as there are so many women in the world who can’t know how or why the battering is going on in their lives or how to get out of it for good. If you ever believed that this time would be the last, trust me, it won’t. How far can it go? I am on death row and they (The Texas Department of Criminal Justice) plan to take my life soon. I wished many a time I had died at the hands of my husband and I’ve wondered why, as well. I’ve wished that my children and grandbabies wouldn’t have to live with the shame of what the state Texas wants to do to me. Yes, I want to live. I want my grandbabies and all the grandbabies out there to know there is hope and help, that there are people who can and will help, that they can fight back in a way that they will not be hurt for it. We have better laws for domestic violence, but they are not strong enough and they are not enforced enough. On behalf of myself and many other battered women, I lift up in prayer and praise for the hundreds and thousands of battered women and children who didn’t make it and pray to God that I do make it after all, even now being on death row with the time running out. While all of this story was available to the court, my attorney at trial, the state, none of it was told and no one on the jury heard any of it. They knew nothing of my past life to pass a sentence of death. I still believe in miracles just like the ones that we read about in our Bible. I believe that God still works those today to help us to learn and grow and believe and have our hopes in Him.

A Testimonial

I want to talk to you about privation, the mentally ill, the impaired, the abused, and how all these things have touched my life and have lived with me throughout my life. I was born to a poor family in North Carolina. My mother and dad were tobacco sharecroppers and lived in a shack without windowpanes, water, or electricity. That is where I was born. We lived there (from what I understand) until I was three years old - my mother, dad, and a brother two years older than myself. Later, we moved to Virginia where my mother and dad worked in the cotton mills. About that time I came in contact with the measles. I ran a high fever for days and my mother believed I would die. Measles left me with very little hearing from running the high fever so long and not being able to bring it down. When I started school I was hearing impaired and learning disabled without any help - besides not knowing there was something wrong with me. I watched - focused - as people talked and I taught myself to lip read without knowing what it was. Without the facial clues to help me I could not tell what was going on. I couldn't always see the faces or expect people to turn my way as they talked so a lot of the time I heard nothing. I married at 15 years old to a man I loved dearly. We were married for 18 years and had six children. At 31 years of age he left me and we had to learn to live without him. I had to go to work and it was hard for I could not hear to relate to others. I had been a wife, mother, and homemaker all those years. I had no schooling or skills to turn to. After a while I started to drink and I had never drank before. At first I would go out to hide this from the kids. I didn’t like going out because of having to relate to people and I started to stay home. I would ask my oldest daughter to watch my smaller children so I could be alone. I would go into a world where he was still there and I would drink myself to sleep. I did this a lot. Even though I knew it would not change anything, it did take me away for awhile. When I was about 40 and it was Christmas time, a friend of mine asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I told him I wanted a hearing aid. He said, “Go to the doctor and find out what you need.” I learned I needed two hearing aids. I felt these would really help me and change my life. They did, but not like I thought or expected, for hearing aids don’t change what you hear, they only make everything louder. The hearing aids did bless me in a lot of other ways. They enabled me to hear water, the wind, the rain, birds, things like my watch and a clock. I had never heard them before for 40 years. I didn’t know one could hear you walk across the carpet, or that your clothes made a noise, too. I recall the first morning. I got up to make my son’s breakfast, turned on the toaster and it made so much noise I asked him, “Has it always done that?” Bobby said, “What?” I said, “The noise from the toaster.” “Yes, Mama. It has.” It made me think of all he times I had gotten up early to get something done before the children got up and I knew I had to have been making enough noise to wake the dead. Later, my attorneys sent a team of people, doctors to run tests on me. I learned then how devastating this lack of hearing had ruled my life, ran a pattern for me over and over. How I had felt vulnerable to men who had raped me, men who abused me, hurt me, held guns to me, beat me and left me for dead. After learning all these things, I cried myself to sleep at night for a long time. A lot of questions come to mind and I needed answers. I knew God wanted to know all our hurts, pain, all about us. He really already does, but He wants us to tell him and ask him. My answer comes from Him. He’ll let you hurt, live in pain, he’ll let your heart be ripped out and when you’ve hurt long enough and bad enough you’ll turn to Jesus. I ask, Lord, give me something to justify this reasoning in my view, some answers so I can go on. He says: Knock, my door will open; seek and you will find; you ask in faith and you believe and you shall have. So I asked, Lord, "Why did all this happen to me? Why did I go through all this abuse that put me into a state of mind?" Why did you let it happen? It came to mind how all the times God had healed people, people who could not walk, hear, see, how he healed the people who were brought to him - people who were just there and he healed them before many others. He could have healed them from anywhere he was. He didn’t have to heal them before others. But God worked a miracle for the non-believers. That was my answer. I am God’s miracle. God could have healed me and not allowed me to be deaf. He could have sent someone to help me, could have let me grow up and be as normal a person as I could. I wonder sometimes now where I would be today and what kind of success I may have had if I had not been deaf, if someone had just helped me a little. But he didn’t let it happen that way. He gave me a blessing and that blessing is to share my life, my experience in hopes just like his that my testimony will touch a child and spare them from a life like I’ve lived. Or that my testimony will touch an adult and they will try to understand, have compassion for those who are unlike them in many ways and having a hard time. To try to be just like Jesus is and how he is, to stand there and wait as long as it takes and say, “Here I am. I want to help you and lend a hand and pass it on to others who have less." I believe God sent his son Jesus Christ to live here on earth in the flesh just like us, that he lived and died and rose again to give us salvation and everlasting life. I believe I am worthy because Jesus lives in my heart and if it weren’t for Jesus, there would be nothing. I thank you Jesus.

Abuse has no preference

Abuse has no preference as to where, when, or how it will apply itself from the hands of an abuser to the person who receives it. Abuse has no preference how it is applied to effect the mind to bend it to the abuser's control - it will do it every time. I was talking to someone a few years ago about how it seems that no matter how good I was, how much I did, how well I did it, it was never enough. They told me, "Bettie, to those kind of people you can never be good enough or do anything well enough to please them. There will always be more they want from you." As I thought back I found it was so true, yet we as battered women try to please to keep what peace we can, but the end always sounded the same - it was never enough. I can recall the times I was beaten if I answered and beaten if I didn't. It was the same outcome. At times when I was so scared to speak and was kicked with boots and dragged from room to room and water poured over my head when he thought I was passed out and he wanted me awake to endure this. That time he left me on the floor when I couldn't get up and walked out. There's the time I was taken out in a field by my husband and strangled, raped, and told to scream all I wanted to, it would do no good. I learned not to scream, to do a thing or say a word. Just do what he wanted me to and he would take me home. I was not even married to him then; we were divorced when this happened. Still, no one would make him leave me alone. These stories could go on and on. I used to go for weeks and not think of this in here, in prison, but not any more. Now I am stripped daily, up to 6 to 8 times a day, and it reminds me of those times in the past. I am trying to block it out. Sometimes it works and other times it doesn't. I just keep talking during the time I am stripped to avoid thinking of what I am doing. Yes, I learned to endure it, to fake it, to even live with it to some degree because what was I to do if no one else would help me? I lived in a state without my family with only my six children and me. It was hard trying to run and hide, to move my children from school to school, home to home, and start over time and time again, only for him to find me again. My children couldn't live anything like a normal family life. We always had to be on the lookout for someone who would hurt us and did. This world gets very small. I moved from Texas to Virginia once and in a few short weeks my husband was at my door and it started all over again.

On My Own

In 1969 after my divorce from the children's father, I was told that maybe the welfare could help train me for a job. I went to talk with them but because I was supposed to be getting $250 a month for my five children living with me, I did not qualify. That was only $50 a month for each child to feed, clothe, to keep a home, send them to school and get medical care. Praise God my children were always healthy, but for my baby. Bobby was dehydrated because he couldn't digest milk and didn't want Kool-Aid or water. The Welfare could have helped me with my hearing, but said I was drawing too much money - when I could get it from the children's father. When I called him, he came by and gave me $50 for milk and lunch money. My children suffered as almost all children do when there is a divorce. I believed their father when he said he would not let them down. He didn't have to help me but he could have helped me with the children and given them a better life than what they had. He never paid more than $50 a month for all of them, ever. Sometimes he went for a whole year without paying that. When my baby was dehydrated and in the hospital, I was staying there with him and needed to go home a while to see about the rest of the children, I called their father at work to come stay with Bobby. He came but told me what time to be back because he had a date. I knew he would leave and Bobby was only fifteen months old and I didn't want him left alone. I worked jobs waiting on tables and in a bar and along with those jobs where you pay your own taxes, the so-called pat on the back jobs for respect. With being hearing impaired, I learned to work in degrading places I didn't like, learned to smile and keep going to make a living. I worked two and three jobs because one didn't pay enough to raise my children. Things did get easier from time to time as my children grew up and went on their own and there were fewer to take care of. I learned to talk better, but fell into groups where no one cared anyway. I kept to myself a lot where I didn't have to have any input so no one knew any different or that I didn't know what they were talking about. People would sometimes say how quiet I was and I would just smile and say, "I'm listening." This, so no one would tease me about not hearing or about my hearing aids after I got them. I really lived in a world of my own and tried to be as much like others as I could. I lived in a very sheltered place to be safe as I could in body and mind. Without really knowing it, I chose words I could say to sound better. I did not and still can't hear words like normal hearing. A lot of words I still can't say or repeat and it makes me feel less intelligent than I could be if I had more training after I got my hearing aids. These are some of the errors that confused me after I got hearing aids. I learned that all those years I had never heard words right or said them right as well. How embarrassing I must have been for my family, husband, and children! I withdrew because of it. People still don't understand this to this day. Even when I try to tell them, they think because I can hear better or talk some that all is OK. It is not. Do I blame my hearing loss for my lesser life? No, I am only trying to explain what it did to me, what a disability can do to a person and their life when others know and could have done something to help them. What abuse and neglect can do to a person. What we can do to ourselves when we don't know where to turn or even have a place to turn. I just read this: Helen Keller, who was both blind and deaf, was asked which of those senses she would rather have restored if it were possible to do so. She replied without a moment's hesitation, "Hearing, because it truly connects you to the world."

Five Generations of Abuse

At age five years old is the first I recall of rape, yet I didn't know what rape was for many years to come. I am 62 now. At age five you didn't hear those kinds of words and I couldn't hear anything then. I remember the pain and fear as I was hurting and my mother and aunt tried to help me. I remember them trying to put something back into me as if my insides were falling out. I still don't recall who did it. I think back at times to try, but I can't. After that I can recall the fear of others when I was given a bath. I never wanted anyone to see me. We lived in an apartment where the back door came into the kitchen that everyone used. There was a large deep sink that I was given a bath in and was dried off with a towel there. I never wanted anyone in there. But I was just a little girl and no one knew what was wrong with me as I cried. I didn't even know myself. When I got married at fifteen and had a home of my own, everyone had to be dressed when they got up. No one, not even my babies, could run around in the house in their underwear. I had a fear of that and I didn't know why and I've felt that way all my life. I can recall almost everywhere I have ever lived after the age of five, but I can't remember what happened. Some things that I do remember I can't repeat because it would hurt those now who don't need to be hurt and would change nothing. I believe God blocks the mind so we are not given more than we can carry at one time. But this is not blocking the minds of the children who are watching and hearing what is going on. Believe me when I say it has a great effect on them and those who witness what the children see. Children grow up with what they see and learn and carry it on into their own families and the lives of others. What they see they think is normal and right and OK. It is not always right when it causes fear in those who must live with it all their lives. At age twelve, I became the woman of the house though I was still a child. I was taken out of school one day to care for my little brother, 5, and sister, 3. My mother had gone to the hospital for a while. No one knew for how long. My mother had been sick off and on for a long time and I didn't know what was wrong, but I was told this time where she was. She had been admitted into a mental institution. She was there a few months. During this time I became the mother of the family taking care of the house, my brother and sister, washing, grocery shopping, and cooking. I already knew how to do all this for I had spent most of my time at home with Mama. It fees so sad now how I went from playing with my dolls and playing house to being a real mother and it wasn't playing now. After a while my mother could come home on weekends so I would clean house and cook and have everything all nice for her, but then others in the family would come over, mess up the house, eat the food and I had no time alone with Mama. When they all came over I had to go back to being a little girl only I was a little girl no more. I was somewhere in between. There was one time I remember being able to talk to Mama a short time and tell her what was going on while she was gone. I didn't know anything about mental illness and I still don't know much, but had I known anything at that time I never would have told her what was going on. I would have known she didn't understand and that she was helpless to do anything even if she did. At that time she had given up. Mama got past her illness, went back to work, and worked until she retired at 65 or so. She still had some problems, but I was never told about them. Like I've said, we became friends and mother and daughter. At one time I sent home over 350 letters she had written to me here, I could never put one in the trash. Mama passed away in 1993, just six months before my son Bobby died. That was a very painful time. Mama didn't know anymore how to fight back than I did later on when it came my turn. This abuse had started in my grandmother's time, on to my mother, then me, as well as into my own children and grandchildren's generations. This is five generations of women who have fallen into some kind of abuse and control by a man. Where does it stop and where does it end? I wish it could with me, but it has already gone on ahead of me. I recall my own started when I was five years of age with the first man in my life, my father, when I felt I was so special. How many women and children can tell this same story? Will we ever know? But please, Lord, let my story wake up a few who are able to change this cycle.

Cycles of Abuse

The cycle started many years ago in my family when we didn't know what a cycle was. My grandfather (my mother's dad) gave her away along with her brothers and sister. My grandmother could do nothing about it when my mother was raped and used until she also married too young to get away from it. I never knew this all this time until I was here in prison. My mother and I have become friends as well as mother and daughter at last. I even asked some questions about what her hopes and dreams had been other than being the mother she was to us. The things our children as children don't realize we have, until they themselves get older. The heart and mind don't change as we get older the way our skin and appearance change. We still have the same feelings as always only they are deeper and closer to our hearts. I still feel caught somewhere in between somewhere and here. As I went from one abusive relationship to another, each one seemed to get worse. Sometimes I felt like they all must have read the same book or else men all have the same make up. Of course I knew this was not true. Each one had their own kind of abuse and it all meant control. They don't start out that way. I believe we miss seeing it so much because as women we actually try so hard to please. When the abusive side comes out, we want to believe them that they are sorry. We forgive and look forward to that nice side again. It seemed like each one of them just added a twist of abuse to that which was already there. I didn't like being single, wanted to be married and have the family life I knew was there, even if I had to furnish most all of it. After my first marriage, I had always had my own home, my own car, and no one else had ever offered to get another for me. That was OK and I shared what I had and that was OK, too. Now it seems everyone is saying and acting like I had nothing - that is not true. My home was mine and I wasn't married to anyone when I bought it or my property. I worked hard for those things and everything I had. As a little girl I thought you grew up, got married, had children and the family stayed together forever. That was the way of life and I still believe it is the best way. All I ever wanted was to be married and have a family. As a young girl, I dreamed of that little house with a picket fence and flowers to take care of when I got old and until then, always my family. When my husband left the children and myself, that world and dreams all fell apart and I had to face the real world that I could never accept. I married over and over again looking for the dream that never even got close to the one I had for 18 years married to my children's father - even though he was very controlling.

Back on the Right Track with God

In 1985, God picked me up out of that nightmare I lived in after the children's dad left us and I really faced the real world. It was like God set me on this cloud way up above everywhere and everyone so I could see. As I sat there I said, Lord, there is a jungle down there. How did I ever get this far? When I looked into His face and eyes I knew it was only by His Grace. Then is when I started back on the right track that I knew as a child and young girl and went to church and trusted, paying attention to the details of life. Yes, it is hard here where I am. I ask, why was I here and not some where else? I know now I didn't know how to get out of that life. There was no one else who cared enough to save me from myself. No one cared enough to get into my head or heart. No one helped me understand what had happened to me, so here I sit. I wish it could be another way and I hope and pray it will be. This is no place to be and I don't belong here. If it takes all this to turn my life and help me understand, then I am grateful for it. I would think that with all that goes on in prison, there would be more important things to do than strip a little old woman all day long who never goes anywhere. I'll hold on to my pride, morals, dignity and pray one day I may, by the Grace of God, walk out of here. If not, then I pray something I say or do will help another live a little better, a little easier, someone else who had to live this way. If the truth or if any of what I've said had been told at trial, I would not be here. If the witnesses had been called, and none were, or the pictures of me beaten and bruised with black eyes had been shown, but they were not - even though my attorney had them. How was I to know what was going on when no one told me? I still don't understand it today. The jury never knew that I was deaf and could not hear my trial - only in parts. I couldn't hear enough and know what was going on. There were no speakers. I didn't know there could be for I had never been in court before for a trial. Something went wrong. Yes, God picked me up out of that world and let me see how it really is. There are a lot of places out there now for battered women to turn to, but why does it have to be her who gives up her home and moves her children from place to place and never having a secure home? Why is it her who always has to be hiding somewhere and on the run to be safe? I know: I've been there time and time again. It was hard with five children and trying to keep them in school and safe. It is hard to hold a job and be able to work free of the abuser calling and coming to where you work. Battered women go through this all the time. There has to be a way to stop it so they can have a normal life.

Beets v. State, 767 S.W.2d 711 (Tex.Cr.App. 1987) (Direct Appeal).

Betty Lou Beets, the appellant, was convicted by a jury of committing the offense of capital murder of Jimmy Don Beets, who was then her lawful husband. It was alleged in the indictment that the appellant "did then and there, knowingly and intentionally cause[d] the death of an individual, namely, Jimmy Don Beets, by shooting him with a firearm, and the said murder was committed for remuneration and the promise of remuneration, namely: money from the proceeds of retirement benefits from the employment of Jimmy Don Beets with the City of Dallas, insurance policies on the said Jimmy Don Beets in which the [appellant] is the named beneficiary, and the estate of Jimmy Don Beets." The record reflects that Beets died intestate.

At the time of his death, Beets and appellant had been married less than one year, although they had previously lived together for an unknown period of time.After the jury found appellant guilty of the offense of capital murder, "as alleged in the indictment", The indictment obviously alleges the offense of murder and the aggravating element of remuneration, which causes the offense of murder to be elevated to capital murder. it thereafter answered in the affirmative the special issues that were submitted to it pursuant to Art. 37.071, V.A.C.C.P The special issues were as follows: "Was the conduct of the Defendant, Betty Lou Beets, that caused the death of the deceased, Jimmy Don Beets, committed deliberately and with the reasonable expectation that the death of the deceased or another would result?"; "Is there a probability that the Defendant, Betty Lou Beets, would commit criminal acts of violence that would constitute a continuing threat to society?"Neither the appellant nor the State presented any testimony or evidence at the punishment stage of the trial; the State relying upon the evidence that had been presented at the guilt stage of the trial as the basis for the jury's answers to the special issues that were submitted at the punishment stage of the trial. Thereafter, the trial judge assessed the appellant's punishment at death. We reverse.

Lil Smith, owner of the Redwood Beach Marina, which is located between the communities of Kemp and Seven Points or between the communities of Seven Points and Gun Barrel City on Cedar Creek Lake or Reservoir, testified that around 10:00 o'clock p.m. on August 6, 1983, several of her customers at the marina noticed an empty boat drifting on the lake near the marina. Two of her customers went and got the empty boat and brought it to shore. Found inside the boat was a fishing license with the name "Jimmy Don Beets" thereon. Also found in the boat were a medicine bottle containing nitroglycerine tablets and a life jacket. Several tablets from the bottle were found in the bottom of the boat.The Coast Guard and Parks and Wildlife were notified and several of their personnel came to the marina. Smith then looked in the telephone book to see if anyone by the name of Jimmy Don Beets was listed, found that name, telephoned the listed number several times, and finally spoke to appellant and informed her about the empty boat and the finding of Beets' fishing license. The appellant later told Smith that the reason she did not immediately answer the telephone was because she was outside in the yard and did not hear it ring.

The appellant went to the marina and identified the boat and the fishing license as belonging to Beets, who was then her lawful husband. The boat was established to be Beets' separate property, having been acquired before he and appellant married. On July 24, 1984, almost a year after Beets was reported missing, but before the skeletal remains of his body were found, appellant sold the boat to Martha and Michael J. Miller. During the trial, Martha testified to the facts of the sale of the boat by appellant to her and her husband. The record also reflects that Beets owned a house, which was also apparently his separate property. Appellant testified that she and Beets had tried to sell the house before Beets disappeared. The house mysteriously burned. Apparently, after letters testamentary issued, appellant, through counsel, unsuccessfully attempted to recover on a fire insurance policy that insured the house for fire loss.Because of high winds, it was decided by the authorities that a search for Beets' body would not commence until the next morning, August 7th.

Johnny Marr, a deputy sheriff for Henderson County, testified that at approximately 8:30 o'clock a.m. on August 7th, he and Hugh G. De Woody, the Fire Chief of the Payne Spring Fire Department, went to the appellant's residence to see if Beets had possibly returned home since he had been reported missing. Appellant told Marr that her husband "had went fishing the night before [on the lake and 'had been having trouble with his boat'], and hadn't returned Saturday morning." Marr told appellant that as speed boat races were taking place on the lake that day, and because of the numerous boats that would be in the lake that day, it was likely that Beets' body would be found by someone. When appellant testified, she denied that Marr and De Woody came to her residence that morning.

Mike Warren of the Parks and Wildlife Department testified that extensive search efforts were made by members of several different fire departments, which included members of the City of Dallas Fire Department, for whom Beets had been employed for approximately 26 years, members of the Henderson County Sheriff's Department, Coast Guard personnel, and many other persons. Although the search lasted for three weeks, Beets' body was never recovered.

Denny Burris, a chaplain with the City of Dallas Fire Department, testified that he visited with appellant several times after Beets was reported missing. Burris testified that appellant made inquiry of him whether she was covered by any insurance policies that Beets might have had with the City of Dallas, as well as inquiring whether she would be entitled to receive any pension benefits that Beets might have accumulated. Appellant did not profess to Burris that she had any specific knowledge of either insurance coverage on Beets' life or any pension benefits Beets might have accumulated. Burris told her that he did not know but would check into the matter and report back to her. Burris did check and learned that Beets's life was insured with the total amount of insurance being approximately $110,000. He also learned that appellant would be entitled to receive approximately $1,200 each month from Beets' pension benefits. Burris advised appellant of his findings, and also told her that according to the City Attorney of Dallas that because Beets' body had not been recovered there would be a seven year waiting period before any payment of insurance proceeds could occur. Evidence was adduced during the trial which established that approximately two years later, the appellant, through an attorney, applied for and received letters testamentary. At the same time, appellant, through the attorney, applied to have Beets legally declared dead.

On March 5, 1985, approximately three months before the skeletal remains of Beets' body were found and identified, Beets was legally declared dead by the presiding judge of the County Court of Henderson County. Appellant was made the administratix of Beets' estate. These proceedings appear proper under the provisions of Section 72 of the Probate Code. That section also provides that "Distribution of the estate to the persons entitled thereto shall not be made by the personal representative until after the expiration of three (3) years from the date such letters [testamentary] are granted." However, on April 4, 1985, the attorney for Beets' only natural child, James Donald Beets, filed a motion for new trial in that cause. On June 10, 1985, two days after appellant was arrested on June 8, 1985, the presiding judge of the County Court of Henderson County issued an "Order for Protection." At the time of trial, the issue of who would ultimately administer Beets' estate, as well as who would ultimately financially benefit from his estate, had not been resolved. By the probate records, Beets died intestate.

Rick Rose, an investigator for the Henderson County Sheriff's Department, testified that he became directly involved in this case almost two years after Beets' had disappeared. His direct involvement in the case occurred after "[he] received information from a [credible] confidential informant who gave [him] facts that there may be possible ... questions [concerning the cause of the death] of Jimmy Don Beets." This occurred sometime in the spring of 1985. At that time, neither Beets' body nor the physical remains of his body had been found. As a result of Rose's investigation, he secured an arrest warrant for the appellant that charged her with the murder of Beets. Rose had her arrested on June 8, 1985 by members of the Mansfield Police Department, who turned her over to Rose, who booked her into the Henderson County Jail. The validity of the arrest warrant, which is not in the record of appeal, was not challenged in the trial court nor is it challenged on appeal in this Court. Rose testified that after appellant was incarcerated he went and secured "an evidentiary search warrant" to search the appellant's residence and its premises. The validity of the search warrant, which is also not in the record, was not challenged in the trial court nor is it challenged on appeal in this Court. Pursuant to the execution of the search warrant, physical remains of the bodies of Beets and Doyle Wayne Barker, another former husband of appellant's, were found at different locations on the premises where the appellant and Beets were living at the time Beets disappeared. The jury was not then made aware of the extraneous offense testimony regarding Barker's disappearance and death. This came into evidence after the trial judge conducted a hearing on appellant's motion to exclude such testimony, which he overruled. Beets' remains were found buried in the "wishing well," which was located in the front yard of the residence. Barker's remains were found buried under a storage shed located in the backyard of the residence. Two bullets were recovered from Beets' remains. The remains of the two bodies were transported to the Dallas Forensic Science Laboratory where they were subsequently identified as being the remains of the bodies of Beets and Barker. A Collector's item pistol that had been previously recovered from the appellant's residence as a result of an incident that did not involve the appellant and was not directly related to the cause at Bar was also turned over to the Dallas laboratory.

Robert "Robbie" Franklin Branson, II, one of appellant's sons, who we will hereinafter refer to as Robbie, testified. The trial judge later instructed the jury that Robbie was, as a matter of law, an accomplice witness to the Beets' killing. Robbie, who was then on felony probation for committing a burglary that had occurred in Navarro County, which is unrelated to this case, testified that he was living with appellant and Beets on August 6, 1983, when appellant falsely reported Beets missing; that appellant told him that she was going to kill Beets that evening; that Robbie then left the residence at the suggestion of appellant, because "she said she wanted me to leave and she didn't want me to be around when she shot and killed him," and remained absent for approximately two hours, after which he returned to the residence when he learned that his mother had actually shot and killed Beets during his absence. Robbie thereafter assisted appellant in placing Beets' body in the "wishing well", which he and Beets had previously constructed. The next day, after appellant put some of Beets' heart pills in the boat that Beets owned and after Robbie took the propeller off the boat, Robbie took the boat to the main part of the lake, abandoned it, and was soon met by appellant near that location. The two then returned home.

During cross-examination, the appellant's attorney several times accused Robbie of being the actual killer of Beets, which Robbie denied. Robbie admitted that his participation with appellant in burying Beet's body in the "wishing well" had preyed on his conscience. However, except for telling his ex-common-law wife who did not testify, Robbie remained silent on the subject for almost two years. Robbie testified that he remained silent because he wanted "to protect his mother." However, after his mother was arrested, Robbie commenced cooperating with the authorities, "to protect his back[side]." Robbie testified that he knew of Barker, but had only seen him one time, and that he did not live with his mother and Barker when she and Barker were married and lived together.

Shirley Stegner, one of appellant's daughters and a sister of Robbie, also testified for the prosecution. Shirley testified that her mother telephoned her on the night of August 6th and requested that Shirley come to her residence, which Shirley did. During the telephone conversation, Shirley asked her mother "if she had done what we had talked about before," which conversation related to appellant previously telling Shirley that she was going to kill Beets, put Beets' body in the boat, have Robbie take the boat out into the lake, where he would drop Beets' body into the lake, and then set the boat adrift, so that it would look like Beets had accidentally drowned. Appellant responded: "Yes." Shirley went to her mother's residence but after she got there appellant informed her that "everything was taken care of and that I could go back home," which she did. Shirley testified that several weeks later she returned to her mother's residence when she was informed by appellant that "her and my brother Robbie had buried Jimmy Don Beets in the wishing well." Shirley never testified that appellant had admitted to her that she had killed Beets in order to recover on any insurance policies or to receive any pension benefits that Beets might have had. At this time during the trial, the trial judge conducted a hearing on the appellant's motion to exclude any extraneous offense testimony going to the death of Barker, after which the trial judge overruled the motion, thus permitting the State to then present testimony going to the disappearance and death of Barker. See, however, post.

In the presence of the jury, Shirley testified that in October, 1981, almost two years before Beets disappeared, when her mother and Barker were married and living together, while she and her mother were "sitting around a campfire", her mother told her that "she was going to kill Doyle Wayne Barker" because "she couldn't put up with anymore of him beating her and that she didn't want him around anymore." Her mother also told her that "the trailer [house] was in his name and she was just a co-signer on it and that if they were to get a divorce, that he would end up with the trailer [house]." Approximately 3 or 4 days later, at Shirley's residence, Shirley and her mother had another conversation, during which her mother told her that "it was all over with and she had done what she intended to do ... She told [Shirley] that she waited until [Barker] went to sleep and then she got the gun and covered it with a pillow and pulled the trigger and when she pulled the trigger, the pillow [interfered] with the firing pin, so she hesitated for a minute, afraid that Wayne was going to wake up, and she cocked the gun again and fired and shot him in the head."

Thereafter, Shirley assisted her mother in disposing of Barker's body: "We drug him from the trailer outside to the back and put him in the hole that had already been dug [in order to build a barbeque pit]." Shirley further testified that "the next day [she and her mother] went and bought some cinder blocks and [built] a patio" over the hole in which Barker's body had been placed. Subsequently, a large storage shed replaced the patio. During cross-examination, Shirley testified that although she had also been charged with the murder of Barker and her $1,000,000 bail bond had been reduced to $5,000 she had not been promised anything by the prosecution in exchange for her testimony against her mother. We pause to point out that in the conversations that Shirley had with her mother regarding Barker's death, other than the reference to the trailer house, appellant did not admit to Shirley that she was going to kill Barker for financial gain. There is also no evidence whatsoever in the record that might reflect or indicate that appellant financially benefited from Barker's death. There is also no evidence in the record that might reflect or indicate that the trailer house to which appellant referred and the trailer house in which appellant and Beets resided when Beets was reported missing are one and the same trailer house.

Rick Rose was recalled to testify. Rose testified to the recovery of the skeletal or physical remains of Beets and Barker's bodies. See ante. The remains were transported to the Dallas Forensic Science Laboratory where they were subsequently identified as being the skeletal or physical remains of Beets and Barker's bodies.

Dr. Charles S. Petty, the Chief Medical Examiner and Director of the Dallas County Forensic Science Laboratory, testified to the "post-mortem autopsy" that he performed on the skeletal remains that had been sent to the laboratory. Petty testified that he identified the bones as those of Beets and Barker's bodies. Petty testified that the cause of death of Beets was "the gunshot wound defect in the skull and locating of not one but two bullets, one in the region of the skull and the other in the region of the bones of the trunk. In my opinion, death was due to one, if not two, gunshot wounds ... One in the head and one in the trunk somewhere." Two bullets were recovered from the skeletal remains of Beets' body; one from the skull area of the body and one from the trunk area of the body. Dr. Randall L. Callison, who had been Beets' dentist during his lifetime, testified that he made a comparison of Beets' skeletal remains with x-rays that he had and in his opinion "the bodily remains that were presented to me from the Dallas County Medical Examiners were the remains of Jimmy Don Beets."Petty also testified that the bullets found in Beets' skeletal remains could have been fired from the same weapon, but he was unable to positively testify that they were fired from the Collector's item pistol. Three bullets were recovered from the skeletal remains of Barker's body. Petty testified that the cause of Barker's death was "gunshot wounds."

Allen Jones, a firearms examiner employed by the Dallas County Forensic Science Laboratory, testified that he examined the recovered bullets, after which he formed the opinion that they were fired from a .38 calibre type weapon, which was the calibre of the Collector's item pistol. Jones, however, was unable to positively testify that in his opinion the bullets that were fired came from the Collector's item pistol that had been previously recovered from the appellant's residence. See ante. Jackie Collins, a niece of Beets who was also an employee of J.C. Penney Life Insurance Company, testified to Beets' personally cancelling an insurance policy in the amount of $10,000 on May 19, 1983. The application, which had apparently been sent with a monthly J.C. Penney bill to either Beets or appellant or to both of them, had been filled out without Beets' knowledge. What attracted Collins' attention to the application was the fact that the address on the application was not Beets' but was that of another of appellant's daughters. Appellant was the named beneficiary on the application. When appellant testified, she did not deny that she had filled out the application, signed Beets' name to the application, and returned it with the monthly payment.

Peggy Sherrills Webb, an employee of the City of Dallas who was a "Benefits Supervisor with Personnel", testified that Beets had a life insurance policy with the City in the amount of $86,000, with the appellant the named beneficiary of the policy. George Chaney, a documents examiner who had been employed for 23 years by the Secret Service and was presently employed by James Leroy Lewis and Associates, documents examiners located in Dallas, testified that the signature on the J.C. Penney's application, "J.D. Beets", was signed by appellant, but that the signature "J.D. Beets," that authorized the policy to be cancelled, was Beets' actual signature. Chaney also testified that the signature on the certificate of transfer or bill of sale for the boat, "J.D. Beets", which occurred when the boat was sold to the Mitchells, was signed by appellant. This, however, occurred on July 24, 1984, almost one year after Beets had disappeared. When appellant testified, she did not dispute the fact that she had sold the boat to the Mitchells nor did she dispute that she signed Beets' name to the bill of sale.

Jerry Hast, an employee of the City of Dallas, who was the "Administrator of the Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund", testified concerning an application for benefits that had been filed by an attorney on behalf of appellant, which occurred after the letters testamentary had issued. Hast testified that "The Pension Board" voted to approve a settlement with appellant for pension benefits. This settlement was going to be finalized on June 10, 1985. Hast also testified that the settlement was cancelled after members of the Board learned that appellant had been arrested for murdering Beets. The appellant would have received $15,852.59 plus a monthly benefit of $790.42 for the rest of her life or until she remarried had the settlement been finalized. Whether the $15,852.59 referred to any insurance policies is not reflected in the record on appeal. As previously pointed out, our Probate Code prohibits distribution of a missing person's estate until three years from the date the letters testamentary issued have expired. E

. Stewart Elrich, Jr., Manager of the Group Life Claims Department of Republic National Life Group Insurance Company, testified that his company had issued a life insurance policy on Beets' life in the amount of $23,428. The policy also contained an accidental death provision in the amount of $20,000. At some time, presumably after March 5, 1985 when the letters testamentary issued, an attorney wrote the company on behalf of appellant stating that "an application had been made for administration of an estate." No action was ever taken on the attorney's letter.