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Everything you need to know about 'Women on Death Row'

Women on Death Row

Women on Death Row airs Wednesdays at 9pm on Crime + Investigation. The show looks at six cases from the United States which resulted in a woman being given the death penalty.

Here is everything you need to know about the brand-new series.

What is Women on Death Row about?

Women on Death Row follows the stories of women who have been sentenced to death. Today, approximately 2,500 inmates are living on death row in the United States and only about 50 of them are women.

This new show gives full access to six of these inmates, starting with their crimes and convictions, before focusing on the struggles of being on death row. The series features exclusive footage from inside each prison, haunting recordings from the interrogation rooms, as well as interviews with the people closest to the case.

Which case is covered in the second episode?

The second episode is centred around Shawna Forde, an Arizona resident who ordered the murder of a local drug trafficker and his daughter. She was the founding member of an organisation called ‘Minutemen American Defence’, which claimed to stop drugs from being brought into the country from Mexico. However, it later transpired that she was actually running a militia that robbed cartel dealers and sold their drugs for financial gain.

In May 2009, Forde and Jason Bush knocked on the door of Raul Flores, posing as members of the United States Border Patrol. Once inside, Bush shot and killed Raul. He then turned the gun on nine-year-old Brisenia Flores, shooting her in the face from point-blank range after Forde instructed him to leave no witnesses. Gina Gonzalez, Raul’s wife and Brisenia’s mother, was also shot during the home invasion but survived her injuries.

Forde was sentenced to death in February 2011 but still claims to be innocent. She has made several state appeals which have all been denied and she now has just one federal appeal remaining.

What is a key moment from this episode?

The episode features multiple exclusive videos of Shawna from inside prison. She uses the Zoom calls with producers as another opportunity to argue her innocence to the world. In one particularly chilling clip, she tries to compare her situation in prison to the losses suffered by the victims and their families.

‘I wasn’t there. I didn’t know these people. I have great compassion for the loss of [Raul and Brisenia]. I just think it’s a tragedy that happened, but there’s a tragedy on my end too, because I’ve been basically kidnapped and held hostage and now being threatened with my life for a crime that I absolutely did not commit.’

Who are the contributors to the second episode?

Episode two also features interviews with several people who were very close to the case. The first is Jill Isley, a detective, who called it one of the worst murder scenes she’s ever come across as it showed ‘a complete disregard for human life’. Merrill Metzger, Forde’s half-brother, also gave his side of the story. During the initial investigation, he provided vital information to the police that later contributed to her conviction. He says that he still loves his sister but can’t come to terms with how she could be involved in taking the life of a young child.

Finally, the producers spoke to Jaszmin Eddy, Forde’s daughter, who, by her own admission, is the only member of the family that hasn’t completely abandoned her mother. She completely believes Forde is innocent and that ‘the trial wasn’t fair’. The episode follows Jaszmin as she goes to visit Forde in prison. Despite the pair regularly talking on the phone and through video calls, it is the first time she has seen her mother in the flesh since 2010.

What cases are covered in the other episodes?

The rest of the series looks at the stories of Sandi Nieves, Emilia Carr, Kerry Lyn Dalton and Melissa Lucio.

The first episode was based around Linda Carty, who was convicted of the abduction and murder of a woman in order to steal her newborn son. Carty is on death row in Texas and holds a British citizenship, meaning she could be the first British woman to be executed in the United States since 1955. The first episode about Linda Carty is available to stream now on Crime + Investigation Play.

What should I watch next?

Fans of Women on Death Row will enjoy Evil Up Close: Women Who Kill, another series that shines a light on some of the most horrible crimes committed by female killers.

Evil Up Close: Women Who Kill is available to stream now on Crime + Investigation Play.