Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Spotlight: The Women on Arizona’s Death Row

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.

When an Arizona jury found Jodi Arias guilty of first-degree murder, questions were raised regarding the other women on death row in Arizona. If the jury decides to give Jodi the death penalty, she will join the following list of women. In a post conviction interview, Jodi told FOX 10 Arizona that she’d prefer the death penalty over life in prison.


Shawna Forde | Age 46 | On Death Row Since March 2011

On May 30, 2009, Shawna Forde and two other men entered the home of Raul Flores Jr. and his 9 year-old daughter and killed them. Shawna played a significant role in the anti-immigration movement along the U.S.-Mexican border. Forde and her accomplices posed as officials searching for fugitives that may have had money and drugs in their possession. As the impostors pushed through the door, they fatally shot the Sopori Elementary School third-grade student and her father. Flores’ wife survived the attack by pretending she was dead.



Debra Milke | Age 49 | On Death Row Since October 1990

On December 2, 1989, Debra dressed her 4-year-old son Christopher in a cowboy costume and told him he was going to the mall to see Santa Claus. Instead, she sent him off with two accomplices, James Styers and Roger Scott, who drove him to the desert where Styers shot him three times in the head. Debra was the first woman to be sentenced to death in Arizona since 1932. In police interviews, Debra stated that her son was better off dead than possibly ending up like her husband.  She has consistency said she is innocent. In 1994 there was an appeal but was denied.

In March 2013, Milke’s conviction and death sentence were overturned. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that Debra’s defense attorneys were deprived of information that could have impeached the prosecution’s main witness. According to the Arizona Department of Corrections website, Debra remains inmate number 083533 on the state’s death row pending further hearings.



Wendi Adriano | Age 43 | On Death Row Since December 2004

On October 8, 2000, Wendi murdered her husband Joe in their apartment. Joe was 33 years-old and diagnosed with cancer in 1998. On the morning of October 8, Wendi poisoned her husband with pesticide and then stabbed him 23 times. During the trial testimony, Wendi stated that she was tired of caring for her husband who began chemotherapy that year. Wendi claimed self-defense stating that Joe was physically and mentally abusive. In December of 2004, she was sentenced to death by lethal injection but filed an appeal in 2007. Wendi’s appeal was denied.

See Also: Women Executed in America

See Also: Women on Florida’s Death Row

See Also: Women on Kentucky’s Death Row

See Also: Women on Louisiana’s Death Row

See Also: Women on Alabama’s Death Row


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