Christina Marie Riggs

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Christina Marie Riggs
Christina Marie Riggs.jpg
Christina Marie Thomas[citation needed]

(1971-09-02)September 2, 1971
DiedMay 2, 2000(2000-05-02) (aged 28)
OccupationLicensed practical nurse
Criminal statusExecuted
Conviction(s)Two counts of first degree murder (June 30, 1998)
Criminal penaltyDeath (1998)
VictimsJustin Dalton Thomas[1] (June 7, 1992 - November 4, 1997, age 5 at time of death)
Shelby Alexis Riggs (December 1, 1994 - November 4, 1997, age 2 at time of death)[1]

Christina Marie Riggs (September 2, 1971 – May 2, 2000) was convicted of murder and executed in Arkansas by lethal injection. She was convicted of the November 4, 1997 murder of her two young children, Justin Dalton Thomas and Shelby Alexis Riggs.[1][2] She was the first woman executed in Arkansas since 1845.[3]

Killing of Justin Dalton Thomas and Shelby Alexis Riggs[edit]

Riggs' children were killed in their beds at the family's Sherwood, Arkansas, home. The plan involved giving the children undiluted potassium chloride just after giving them amitriptyline to sedate them.[4] However, the potassium chloride was not diluted properly and it burned her son's veins, causing Justin terrible pain but not death.[5] She eventually smothered him when the injection was ineffective. She then smothered her daughter Shelby, without injecting her, after seeing the pain that the drug caused Justin.[4] She laid the children on her bed, covered them with a blanket, and wrote suicide notes.[3] She then attempted suicide by taking 28 amitriptyline pills and injecting herself with undiluted potassium chloride. Nineteen hours later, Riggs' mother discovered her unconscious on the floor of her home.[5] Riggs' defense said she was suffering from depression and apparently did not want to have her children split up after her intended suicide. The children had different fathers.[6]

Trial and conviction[edit]

At her June 1998 trial, Riggs contended she was not guilty by reason of insanity, but the Pulaski County jury convicted her. During the penalty phase, Riggs would not allow attorneys to put on a defense, saying she wanted a death sentence.[7] Riggs was placed in the Arkansas Department of Correction system and held at the McPherson Unit, which included the female death row, until her execution.[8] The Arkansas execution chamber is located at the Cummins Unit.[9]


On Sunday, April 30, 2000, Riggs was flown from McPherson to Cummins in preparation for her execution.[4] She was executed at 9:28 pm Central Daylight Time on May 2, 2000.[7] Riggs was the fifth woman executed in the United States since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. She was the first woman executed in Arkansas since 1845.[3] Her statement before execution began: "No words can express just how sorry I am for taking the lives of my babies. No way I can make up for or take away the pain I have caused everyone who knew and loved them."[10] Her last words were, "I love you, my babies."[10] Ironically, Riggs was executed with a potassium chloride injection - the same drug she had used in the murders.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ "FindLaw's Supreme Court of Arkansas case and opinions". Findlaw.
  3. ^ a b c Lance, Morrow (May 3, 2000), Why I changed my mind on the death penalty, Time:, retrieved November 5, 2010
  4. ^ a b c "Arkansas woman is facing execution for killing children". The Free Lance-Star. Fredericksburg, Virginia. Associated Press. May 2, 2000. Retrieved November 5, 2010.
  5. ^ a b "Christina Marie Riggs" Office of the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney
  6. ^ Haddigan (April 9, 1999), They Kill Women, Don't They?, Arkansas Times, retrieved November 5, 2010
  7. ^ a b c "Woman executed in Arkansas". BBC News. 2000-05-03. Retrieved 2012-02-13.
  8. ^ Haddigan, Michael. ""They Kill Women, Don't They?"". Archived from the original on May 8, 1999. Retrieved November 22, 2010. Arkansas Times. April 9, 1999. Retrieved on August 15, 2010.
  9. ^ "State Capitol Week in Review." State of Arkansas. June 13, 2008. Retrieved on August 15, 2010. "Executions are carried out in the Cummins Unit, which is adjacent to Varner."
  10. ^ a b Emily Yellin (2000-05-03). "Arkansas Executes a Woman Who Killed Both Her Children". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-02-13.

External links[edit]