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Texas to execute woman convicted of killing man for insurance money

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas is set to execute a woman convicted of leading a plot to kidnap, torture and then beat to death a mentally disabled man to collect insurance money.

The state, which executes more people than any other in the United States, plans to execute Suzanne Basso, 59, at 6:00 p.m. U.S. Central Time (2400 GMT) on Wednesday by lethal injection at its death chamber in Huntsville.

If the execution goes ahead, Basso would be the 14th woman put to death in the country since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976 and the 510th person executed in Texas.

Lawyers for Basso have filed an application with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking a stay, arguing that she is not mentally competent and should not be executed.

"She is delusional. She has been diagnosed with at least six different disorders over time," attorney Winston Cochran, Jr., who filed the petition, told Reuters.

Basso was convicted for the 1998 death of Louis "Buddy" Musso, 59. Basso lured the New Jersey man to Texas with the promise to marry him.

Basso, with five others, later beat him and killed him for his money and to cash in on an insurance policy where she was named the beneficiary, according to court documents.

The victim was beaten so severely with baseball bats, belts and steel-toed boots that his body was unrecognizable when it was found in a ditch.

After Musso's death, police found an insurance policy that would pay $65,000 as a result of violent crime, according to prosecutors.

Lawyers for Basso have argued there was no evidence that proves she was one of the killers.

If the execution goes ahead, it would be the seventh of the year in the United States, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a monitoring agency.

(Additional reporting by David Ingram in Washington; Editing by Scott Malone, Grant McCool and Tom Brown)

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