HUNTSVILLE, Texas —
Five-hundred is "just a number. It doesn't really mean very much," said Randall Browning, who was Booth's godson. "'We're just thinking about the justice that was promised to us by the state of Texas."
Donna Aldred, Booth's daughter, reading a statement to reporters, said that her mother "was an incredible person who was taken before her time."
Texas has carried out nearly 40 percent of the more than 1,300 executions in the U.S. since the Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976. The state's standing stems from its size as the nation's second-most populous state as well as its tradition of tough justice for killers.
Texas prison officials said that for them, it was just another execution. "We simply carried out the court's order," said Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark.
With increased debate in recent years over wrongful convictions, some states have halted the practice entirely. However, 32 states have the death penalty on the books. Though Texas still carries out executions, lawmakers have provided more sentencing options for juries and courts have narrowed the cases for which death can be sought.
In a statement, Maurie Levin, McCarthy's attorney, said "500 is 500 too many. I look forward to the day when we recognize that this pointless and barbaric practice, imposed almost exclusively on those who are poor and disproportionately on people of color, has no place in a civilized society."
Outside the prison, about 40 protesters gathered, carrying signs saying "Death Penalty: Racist and Anti-Poor," ''Stop All Executions Now" and "Stop Killing to Stop Killings." As the hour for the execution approached, protesters began chanting and sang the old Negro spiritual "Wade in the Water."