Christa Pike, Tennessee's only female death row inmate, appeals

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The only woman on death row in Tennessee's prison system is asking a Knoxville federal judge to prevent her execution.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Christa Gail Pike's lawyer filed a petition claiming his client's constitutional rights were violated at the 1996 trial where she was convicted of killing Colleen Slemmer. The petition seeks relief from conviction or sentence.

Both Pike and Slemmer were students at a now-closed Job Corps training center in Knoxville. Investigators said the crime sprang from a love triangle involving another student, Tadaryl Shipp, who is serving a life prison sentence.

Pike's petition described her as a "mentally ill, cognitively impaired, immature adolescent" at the time of the 1995 slaying.

Slemmer was tortured and fatally struck on the head with a chunk of asphalt.

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