In an ongoing feature, Crime Library will shed a light on the women spending the rest of their lives on death row in prisons across America.
In the state of Louisiana, there are a total of 80 inmates on death row, all but two of them male. The state used the electric chair exclusively until 1991, when it switched to lethal injection. These are the two women awaiting execution at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women in St. Gabriel.
Brandy Holmes | Age 32 | On Death Row Since Feb. 2006 | On New Year’s’ Day in 2003, Brandy Holmes and her boyfriend Robert Coleman knocked on a door in Blanchard. When retired minister Julian Brandon, Jr., 70, answered, Brandy and Robert forced their way in. They shot the elderly man, and when he didn’t die right away, they stabbed him multiple times. They also shot his wife, Alice, who survived but died five years later. Brandy was arrested after her neighbors called a tip line and told police that she’d been bragging about killing an elderly couple and trying to sell their jewelry.
After being sentenced to death, Brandy appealed, stating that her fetal alcohol syndrome should have been considered in her sentencing. Tom Donaldson, president of the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome supported her appeal, saying, “Her mother testified that she drank throughout her pregnancy, and in fact named her daughter after her favorite drink. Brandy’s capacity to appreciate the criminality of her actions or to conform to the law is very seriously impaired.” The appeal was denied by the court.
Antoinette Frank | Age 41 | On Death Row Since Oct. 1995 | Before Antoinette Frank became a convicted killer on Louisiana’s death row, she was a police officer. In hindsight, anyone involved in hiring her would say Antoinette should never have been allowed in the New Orleans Police Department. Her troubled youth had led to psychological problems, about which she lied on screening forms. She failed two psychiatric evaluations and was flat-out told that she wouldn’t be hired. But, the chronically understaffed department eventually brought her on board.
Antoinette spent only two years on the force before the night that would land her on death row. On March 4, Antoinette and Rogers LaCaze, a drug dealer she’d met while performing police duties, entered Kim Anh, a family-run Vietnamese restaurant. Antoinette and Rogers began demanding money. When the four siblings working at the restaurant wouldn’t tell them where the money was hidden, they shot and killed two of them–Ha and Cuong Vu. Also killed was Ronald Williams, an NOPD officer working night security at the restaurant.