The state of Texas tonight (Wednesday, Sept. 17) executed a woman convicted eight years ago of intentionally starving her girlfriend’s son to death. Lisa Ann Coleman, 38, was pronounced dead at 6:24 p.m., CDT, 12 minutes after Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials began administering a lethal injection.
Coleman and her then-girlfriend, Marcella Williams, were arrested in 2004 in after calling paramedics to their home in Arlington to treat Williams’ 9-year-old son, Davontae Williams. Paramedics found the child already deceased and in rigor mortis. They said they were shocked to learn how old he was since the child, at the time of his death, weighed only about 36 pounds.
Authorities later determined that Davontae had more than 250 distinct injuries, including burns from cigarettes or cigars and scars from ligatures, and that a lack of food made him stop growing.
Coleman’s attorneys claimed at trial that the boy’s death was an accident and that his injuries and malnourishment were a result of Coleman’s and Williams’ misguided efforts to discipline the boy. They also claimed that Davontae may have had mental health issues that made him hard to handle, and that Coleman and his mother didn’t know how to deal with him.
The Texas Court of Crimimal Appeals upheld Coleman’s conviction in 2009, and the U.S. Supreme Court today rejected a last-day appeal.
Marcella Williams agreed to plead guilty in connection with her son’s death, to avoid the death penalty, and was sentenced to life in prison. Now 33, she is not eligible for parole until 2044.