Death row inmate appeals to Londoners

LONDON, England Carty's seven-minute appeal, recorded this week in the Mountain View Unit women's prison outside Gatesville in Texas, was broadcast on loop over a stereo system mounted on an empty plinth at the corner of the 19th century plaza.

"I'm sorry if I sound like a desperate woman," the 50-year-old says in the broadcast, which was just barely audible on the busy square. "I am desperate, because the British people may be my last hope. If they ask for my life to be spared, maybe Texas will listen."

Carty was sentenced to death in 2002 for killing a young mother and her baby during a kidnapping. Prosecutors say Carty masterminded the abduction so she could masquerade as the child's mother in an effort to salvage her troubled relationship with her boyfriend.

British human rights group Reprieve argues the case against her was full of inconsistencies and that her court-appointed lawyer was incompetent.

The group also says that Carty, who was born on the British Caribbean island of St. Kitts, holds a U.K. dependent territory passport and should have received assistance from the British consulate at the time of her arrest, which she did not.

The unusual broadcast was accompanied on the square block by charity manager Brian Capaloff, who held up placards with excerpts of the speech and a life-size cutout of Carty.

The plinth, built in 1841 for a statue that was never completed, is being made available to members of the public as part of an art project that puts randomly selected people on display in one of London's most famous public spaces.

Those selected have an hour to do whatever they please on display: strip naked, throw a party or read a book.

Capaloff, one of those picked to perform, approached Reprieve to ask what he could do to help, according to staffer Laura Stebbing. She said the group suggested he publicize the plight of Carty, whose final appeal is now being considered by U.S. federal judges.

A ruling is expected soon, and Reprieve is trying to raise money to fight her case -- or to lobby for clemency should her appeal fail.

The British government, which opposes capital punishment, filed a legal brief on Carty's behalf on May 4 urging that she be granted a new trial. The British Foreign Office said it would fight any move to execute her.

Carty said in the broadcast that it was "everybody's worst nightmare" to be executed for a crime she said she did not commit.

"I am living that nightmare," she said. "I have begged for justice and a fair hearing here in the United States, but I am afraid that by the time people find out the truth, it will be too late."

Stebbing said the words were sometimes lost when the wind picked up, but that "you could just about hear it."

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