Christina Riggs was executed by the State of Arkansas for the murders of her two young children. Christina Riggs would be executed by lethal injection on May 2, 2000. Many believe that Christina wanted to be executed and from the time of the murders to her actual execution was less than three years.
Christina Riggs was born in Oklahoma on September 2, 1971 and she would work on a practical nurse.
On November 4, 1997 Christina Riggs planned the murders of her children. She gave them Amitriptyline in order to sedate her five year old son and two year old daughter. Christina then injected potassium chloride into her sons veins however she forgot to dilute the drug and it caused her son pain. Christina Riggs would smother her son and then would smother her two year old daughter.
Christina Riggs attempted to kill herself by taking 28 amitriptyline pills and injecting herself with potassium chloride. Christina’s mother would find her passed out on the floor and the two dead children in the bed. According to her defense team Riggs who dealt with major depressive disorder did not want her children split up after her suicide so decided to kill them
Christina Riggs would plead not guilty by reason of insanity however the defense would not work. Riggs would not allow her lawyers to put up a defense when it came to capital punishment. Christina would be sentenced to death.
Christina Riggs refused to file any appeals so her case blazed through and she was executed by lethal injection (using the same chemical she gave her son) on May 2, 2002
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A former nurse became the first woman to be executed in Arkansas for more than 150 years on Tuesday night, put to death by lethal injection for killing her two children in 1997.
Christina Marie Riggs’ last words were directed to the five-year-old son and two-year-old daughter she murdered. “I love you, my babies,” she said as a lethal mix of chemicals was injected into her wrist at a prison in Varner.
Riggs’ mother and lawyer initially argued that she had been suffering from post-traumatic stress from her work as a nurse treating victims of the terrorist bombing of a government building in Oklahoma City.
But Riggs, 28, waived her right to appeal and prevented her lawyer from applying for clemency, saying that she could not live with the guilt of the murders and wanted to be reunited with her children in heaven
“There is no way words can express how sorry I am for taking the lives of my babies,” she said before the execution. “Now I can be with my babies, as I always intended.”
Human rights activists said her desire to die confirmed her mental instability, and asked for the execution to be stopped on the grounds that it would amount to state-assisted suicide. But the Arkansas governor, Mike Huckabee, turned down their appeal.
Yesterday Riggs’ lawyer, John Wesley Hall, said: “It started out as a suicide and ended as a suicide.”
Riggs told the police that in November 1997 she gave her son, Justin, and daughter, Shelby, some anti-depressants in a cup of water to sedate them.
She then injected a large dose of potassium chloride into her son’s neck with the aim of putting him to sleep. When he woke up and started crying, she injected him with morphine and smothered him with a pillow. She also smothered her daughter.
She laid the two dead children on her bed, before injecting herself with potassium chloride and swallowing 28 anti-depressants.
She left a suicide note for Shelby’s father saying: “I can’t live like this any more, and I couldn’t bear to leave my children behind to be a burden on you or to be separated and raised apart from their fathers and live knowing their mother killed herself.”
The prosecution portrayed her as a cold-blooded killer to whom her children were an “inconvenience”.
She was accused of leaving them locked in their room for hours while she went out at night to karaoke bars.
Doctors testifying for her said she had been severely depressed as a result of sexual abuse as a child, a series of failed relationships with men, lack of money, and lack of self-esteem because of her obesity.
She went to her death weighing 122kg (270lb). She agreed to the execution needles being put in her wrists when her executioners were unable to find a vein in her arm.
Denying that her misfortunes excused her acts, the county prosecutor, Larry Jegley, said: “She claims she was horribly depressed, she was overweight and she was a single mom, and she didn’t have enough money.
“My response to that is ‘welcome to America’. Plenty of folks are in far worse situations than she was.”
Women put to death in America
A total of 560 women have been executed in the US, 3% of the convicts put to death. Five have been executed since 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated after a brief moratorium:
Velma Barfield By lethal injection in North Carolina on November 2 1984 for killing four people, including her mother and fiance, with ant poison. The sunday school teacher confessed and went to her death in pink pajamas after a meal of Cheez Doodles, a popular snack
Karla Faye Tucker By lethal injection in Texas on February 3 1998 for hacking two people to death with a pickaxe. She claimed to have undergone a religious conversion in prison and appealed unsuccessfully to the state governor, George W Bush, for clemency
Judy Buenoano By electric chair in Florida on March 30 1998 for poisoning her husband with arsenic. She was also convicted of drowning her son, who used a wheelchair
Betty Lou Beets By lethal injection in Texas on February 24 2000 for shooting her fifth husband and burying his body in her garden. The 62-year-old grandmother had been charged with, but not convicted of, shooting dead her fourth husband, whose body was also found in the garden, and was convicted of shooting and wounding her second husband. She claimed that she had been the victim of physical abuse by her successive spouses, but her appeal for clemency was turned down by Mr Bush
Christina Marie Riggs By lethal injection in Arkansas on May 2 2000 for the murder of her two children. She waived her right to appeal and forbade her lawyer to apply for clemency
Frequently Asked Questions
- Christina Riggs Execution
Christina Riggs would be executed by lethal injection on May 2, 2000.
- Christina Riggs Last Meal
A supreme pizza, a salad, fried okra, cherry limeade, and a strawberry shortcake for desert
- Christina Riggs Last Words
“No way I can make up for or take away the pain I have caused everyone who knew and loved them” and “I love you, my babies.”
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28-year-old former nurse who had asked for the death penalty after murdering her two small children died by lethal injection Tuesday night, the first woman to be executed in Arkansas since 1845.
Christina Marie Riggs was put to death by lethal injection for killing her son, Justin, 5, and daughter, Shelby Alexis, 2, in November 1997.
Christina Riggs admitted killing the children, and explained that she was deeply depressed at the time. She said she gave her son potassium chloride and morphine and when that didn’t kill him, she smothered him with a pillow. Then she smothered her daughter. She also tried to kill herself with potassium chloride.
Potassium chloride was one of the three drugs the state used in executing Riggs.
The lethal injection was administered 9:18 p.m. Riggs was pronounced dead at 9:28 p.m.
Before the injection was administered, she made a statement that began,”No words can express just how sorry I am for taking the lives of my babies. No way I can make up for or take away the pain I have caused everyone who knew and loved them.”
After the injection was administered, her last words were, “I love you, my babies.”
At her 1998 trial, Christina Riggs asked jurors to sentence her to death, saying: “I want to be with my babies. I want you to give me the death penalty.”
Prosecutors said Riggs’ children had become an inconvenience. They said, for example, that she left them alone while she went to karaoke contests.
She gave both an antidepressant to make them drowsy, then injected Justin with the potassium chloride. But when Justin began crying, Riggs injected him with morphine left over from a hospital patient.
Then she smothered both children.
Riggs then took 28 antidepressant tablets in a suicide attempt.
The children were found dead in Riggs’ bed. Riggs was found on the floor.
Initially, Christina Riggs pursued appeal of her death sentence.
“We had to beg her to file an appeal of the conviction,” said her lawyer, John Wesley Hall Jr. of Little Rock.
But she soon withdrew it. “She just wanted to get it over with,” Hall said.
On Tuesday, Christina Riggs had the right to stop her execution at any time by resuming the appeals process again, but she chose not to do so.
Riggs was the only woman on Death Row in Arkansas and only the fifth woman to be executed in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.
She was the 22nd Death Row inmate to be executed in Arkansas since 1990, when the state carried out its first execution after the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment.
The last woman executed in Arkansas was Lavinia Burnett, hanged in 1845 as an accessory to murder.