A Texas woman is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection for the 2004 starvation death of her girlfriend’s son. Barring a long-shot, last-minute appeal, she will become the sixth woman to be executed — and the 517th person — since Texas re-instated the death penalty in 1982.
In 2004, Coleman was living with her girlfriend, Marcella Williams, in an apartment complex in Arlington, Texas. On the morning of July 26, 2004, paramedics were called to the residence. There, they found the starved corpse of 9-year-old Davontae Williams, according to Texas Tribune. Davontae weighed only 35 pounds — half the normal weight for a child that age — and bore some 250 scars.
According to The Guardian, Texas Child Protective Services previously dealt with claims of abuse and neglect against Davontae. On at least one occasion, he had been removed from his mother’s custody, but was later returned to her after she promised to stay away from Coleman. Prosecutors allege that Williams had avoided taking her sick and starving child to a doctor for fear that he would be taken away from her again.
During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that, in addition to starving him, Williams and Coleman had bound the boy’s hands and feet, kept him locked in a closet, had beaten him with electrical cords, and burned him with cigarettes and cigars. Williams would later plead guilty to avoid facing execution.
Coleman’s lawyer is attempting to spare his client from execution by arguing a technicality. According to Texas law, for a murderer to be eligible for execution, there has to be a second, underlying crime. In Coleman’s case, prosecutors argued that Davontae had been kidnapped, since he had been locked in a pantry on several occasions. Coleman’s lawyer, John Stickels, says that this abuse doesn’t meet Texas’ definition of kidnapping.
“It is wrong, it is child abuse, but it’s not kidnapping. I’m not saying she’s innocent and did not do something wrong. But it’s just not kidnapping. Lisa is absolutely innocent of capital murder. And if they execute her, they will be executing someone who is innocent of capital murder.”
According to The Guardian, execution of women in the United States is rare. Although women commit about ten percent of the murders committed in the country, they account for only one percent of executions. The last woman in the United States was Suzanne Margaret Basso, who was executed in February for torturing and killing a mentally disabled man, according to this Inquisitr report.
Do you believe that Lisa Coleman deserves execution for starving her girlfriend’s son to death? Let us know what you think in the comments.
[Image courtesy of: Texas Tribune]