Texas executed Lisa Coleman on Wednesday evening. Coleman was the ninth person executed by Texas this year — more than any other state — and the 30th inmate executed in the United States over the same span.
This particular execution was also unusual for this country, because executions of female inmates have almost never happened throughout the modern era of the death penalty.
Executions of women in the United States are incredibly rare. Coleman is just the 15th woman put to death since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. That accounts for about 1 percent of the 1,389 executions over that time.
Coleman, 38, was sentenced to death after being found guilty of murdering Davontae Williams, her partner’s nine-year-old son, a decade ago. Davontae was emaciated, weighing 35 pounds at the time of his death in 2004, and had multiple injuries on his body. Coleman and Marcella Williams, her longtime girlfriend, had restrained him and deprived him of food, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
She was killed by lethal injection in Huntsville, Tex. The execution took about 12 minutes, lasting from 6:12 p.m. to 6:24 p.m., and nothing unusual happened, the Department of Criminal Justice reported. In her final remarks, she told her family and “the girls on the row” she loved them. Her last words were, “I’m done.”
In Texas, a murder committed during a kidnapping is considered capital murder. (Since 2011, killing a child younger than 10 has also been considered a capital murder.) However, in a petition filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, Coleman’s attorney argued that while she abused Williams, she did not kidnap him, which would mean she did not commit capital murder.
“There is clear and convincing evidence that both Lisa Coleman and Marcella Williams abused Davontae Williams,” the petition stated. “Lisa Coleman does not deny that she did things to Davontae Williams that she should not have done.”
Her attorney asked for a stay writing that she was only being put to death because Texas wants “to make sure someone pays” for what happened to Davontae. (Marcella Williams pleaded guilty in exchange for a life sentence.)
In a response filed with the Supreme Court, Texas officials said she should not be granted a stay, writing that Coleman does not have “clear and convincing evidence” showing she was not guilty of capital murder.
The Supreme Court declined to stay the execution, announcing about an hour before the execution that the full court had denied the stay. The court did not offer an explanation.
Before Coleman, the last woman put to death was Suzanne Basso, who was executed by Texas in February for torturing and killing a man. Going into Wednesday, there were eight women on death row in Texas (including Coleman), which made up about 3 percent of the people on death row.
Coleman’s execution came a week after the country’s last execution, which also occurred in Texas. Willie Trottie was put to death for shooting and killing his ex-girlfriend and her brother. Trottie similarly asked the Supreme Court for a stay of execution, but the Supreme Court denied the request.
Texas is far and away the most active state when it comes to capital punishment, having put 516 inmates to death since 1976. That is nearly five times as many executions as any other state (Oklahoma has put 111 people to death, while Virginia has executed 110 inmates). Of the 14 women executed ince 1976, five of them were put to death in Texas.
This post has been updated to note that the execution occurred. First published: 2:44 p.m. Last update: 7:51 p.m.