She lay quietly, her eyes closed, her lips moving slowly in prayer. She lay on a metal gurney, white straps tightly binding her shoulders, her waist, her knees and each ankle. Her extended arms were strapped to intravenous boards. Clear IV fluids dripped steadily through needles in each arm.
She drifted off into an empty sleep from the sedative dripping into one arm. With the final order, the fatal drugs streamed through the IV line into her other arm. Twenty seconds later she coughed lightly twice, quietly groaned and then became still.
The attending physician checked her eyes. Her pupils did not respond. He listened intently with his stethoscope to her heart. There was no beat. Looking at the clock he pronounced Karla Faye Tucker dead at age 38. It was 6:45 p.m. CST on Tuesday, February 3, 1998, in Huntsville, Texas.
High on drugs and alcohol in the early hours of June 13, 1983, Karla and her boyfriend, Daniel Garrett, viciously murdered two people with a pick ax. They were quickly apprehended, subsequently convicted and sentenced to death by lethal injection.
Karla committed the sin of murder and found God’s Word to be true. “The wages of sin is DEATH” (Rom 6:23). Karla was under the sentence of physical death from the laws of Texas. She was also under God’s sentence of spiritual death for sin.
Although we may not be murderers, we are no different when it comes to our spiritual condition. Romans 3:22-23 says, “There is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” “So death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom 5:12). Our sin requires death. Like Karla Tucker, we live under God’s sentence of spiritual death.
Karla needed someone with the power to pardon her and there were some that could have done so. The Supreme Court could have ruled to commute her death sentence to life in prison. The Governor could have done the same on recommendation of clemency from the Texas Parole Board. But none stepped forward to do this for her.
What spawned the controversy around Karla Tucker? Fourteen years ago, shortly after her capture, Karla claimed she faced these truths from God’s Word and understood that she was under God’s sentence of spiritual death. Convicted of her sin and guilt before God, she discovered from God’s Word that the Lord Jesus Christ had stepped forward and offered Himself upon the cross of Calvary as a substitute for her sin. I Peter 2:24 says, “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree.”
This was the pardon Karla needed for her sentence of spiritual death. By faith she claimed Him as her Savior. It brought spiritual life to Karla Tucker. While the transformation in her life bore testimony to her salvation in Christ, it did not satisfy the State of Texas. Many questioned the right to execute one so remarkably changed by faith in God.
Karla Faye Tucker was the first woman to be put to death in Texas since the Civil War, and she was only the second in the nation since the Supreme Court re-instated capital punishment in 1976. Karla is counted among the many born again by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. What about you? Only trusting the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior can give you the peace of sins forgiven.