Lisa Coleman, an Arlington woman convicted of starving and torturing her girlfriend’s 9-year-old son to death a decade ago, was executed Wednesday evening.
Coleman, 38, received a lethal injection of pentobarbital about an hour after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-day appeal.
Coleman smiled and nodded to several friends and an aunt who watched through a window, thanking them and expressing her love. She also said she loved the other women on Death Row and urged them to “keep their heads up.”
“I’m all right,” she said. “Tell them I finished strong. God is good.”
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She mouthed a kiss and laughed and nodded to her witnesses in the seconds before the lethal drug took effect.
“Love you all,” she said just before closing her eyes and taking a couple of short breaths. Then there was no further movement.
She was pronounced dead at 6:24 p.m.
Coleman was the first woman from Tarrant County to be executed. Statewide this year, she was the ninth convicted killer and second woman to receive a lethal injection.
Nationally, she’s the 15th woman executed since the Supreme Court allowed the death penalty to resume in 1976. During that time, nearly 1,400 men have been put to death.
Coleman was condemned for the death of Davontae Williams, whose emaciated body was found in July 2004 in the Arlington apartment that Coleman shared with his mother, Marcella Williams.
Paramedics who found him dead said at her trial that they were shocked to learn his age. He weighed 36 pounds, about half the weight of a normal 9-year-old.
A pediatrician testified that he had more than 250 injuries, including burns from cigarettes or cigars and scars from ligatures, and that a lack of food made him stop growing.
“There was not an inch on his body that had not been bruised or scarred or injured,” said Dixie Bersano, one of the prosecutors.
Coleman’s trial attorneys said the boy’s death was an accident. They said that he may have had mental-health issues that made him hard to handle and that Coleman and Williams didn’t know how to deal with him.
After a Tarrant County jury sent Coleman to Death Row in 2006, Williams took a plea bargain and accepted a life sentence. Now 33, she’s not eligible for parole until 2044.
Coleman’s appeals lawyer, John Stickels, argued to the high court that while the child’s hands were tied with clothesline at times, it was “mostly a misguided means of discipline” used by both women.
Tarrant County prosecutors were incorrect to apply kidnapping to the charge, making it a capital murder case, he said. The jury’s conviction on that charge was also incorrect, Stickels contended.
Jefferson Clendenin, an assistant Texas attorney general, told the justices that Coleman’s arguments “had no merit.”
As of Jan. 1, 60 women were on Death Row in the United States, representing about 2 percent of the Death Row population, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a Washington-based organization that opposes capital punishment.
Coleman’s execution leaves seven women on Death Row in Texas, none from Tarrant County. No men from Tarrant County have executions scheduled.