Executing Woman for 9-Year-Old Boy's Starvation Is the Easy Way Out

A Texas woman was executed last night after she was convicted of starving a 9-year-old boy to death 10 years ago. Lisa Ann Coleman, 38, will now go down in history as the 15th woman executed in the United States since 1976, when the Supreme Court made the call to resume death penalty sentences. The crimes she committed against Davontae Williams, who was the son of her girlfriend at the time, were horrendous: he was found in 2004 weighing just 36 pounds and wearing disposable diapers.


A pediatrician testified that he had more than 250 injuries, including burns from cigarettes or cigars and scars from having his arms and legs bound. It was also discovered that he had been locked in a closet and hit with a golf club. He was so malnourished that he had stopped growing and developed pneumonia, which experts say was the official cause of his death. 

As is the case with most death penalty sentences, this one wasn't without controversy and much debate -- almost up until the minute Coleman was killed by lethal injection.

Literally, less than two hours before she was executed, Coleman's lawyer appealed to the US Supreme Court to overrule the decision to put her to death. Although she was convicted in 2006 of murder and kidnapping, Coleman's attorneys have argued all along that Davontae had mental health issues that neither Coleman nor the boy's mom, Marcella Williams, knew how to handle. They tried to spin the women's horrific actions to make it seem like they were only trying to discipline the boy but didn't know the proper way to do so.

Which just sounds like a lot of bunk to me. You don't have to have a Master's degree in child psychology to know the motive behind denying a child food -- to the point where he weighed as much as my 3-year-old daughter -- isn't to teach, it's to torture.

John Stickels, Coleman's lawyer, also argued that his client shouldn't have been charged with aggravated kidnapping, which was the charge that pretty much made it possible to sentence Coleman to death.

The woman's original trial attorney, Fred Cummings, said it was "unfair" that Williams -- who was "as culpable in the death of Davontae" as Coleman, according to him -- got the lighter sentence of life in prison while his client got death, in part because this wasn't her first brush with the law.

I don't advocate using the death penalty -- ever. And that's not because I don't think criminals like Coleman deserve to die. But the whole eye-for-an-eye solution never sat well with me. I don't believe I have the right to play God, and, yes, I know Coleman felt she had that right with Davontae, but her twisted, erroneous way of thinking doesn't suddenly grant me the power to take her life.

But it's also my opinion that death is the easy way out for people who commit heinous crimes against others. A more fitting punishment would have been for Coleman to live the rest of her days in solitary confinement with only her own demons as companions.

You could argue that a life sentence is even more torturous than death, so no, I don't consider myself merciful and kind for thinking this way.

Although I think it makes a lousy defense for why Coleman shouldn't be put to death, I also can't help but agree with Cummings. It seems rather arbitrary to sentence her to lethal injection but allow the boy's own mother -- who did nothing to protect her son -- to live because she agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a plea bargain. Big whoop. Her guilty plea does not automatically indicate that she feels remorse, but it does confirm she knew what she had to do to get herself a lighter sentence.

Do you think Lisa Ann Coleman deserved to be executed?


Image via Texas Department of Criminal Justice

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