McALESTER, Okla. (AP) - A man convicted of battering his
girlfriend's 8-year-old son and stuffing the body in a freezer was
put to death Thursday in Oklahoma, while a man in Alabama was
executed for fatally stabbing a mother of six.
Donald Lee Gilson, 48, proclaimed his innocence in the death of
Shane Coffman before he was injected in Oklahoma with a lethal
combination of drugs.
"I'm an innocent man but ... I get to go to heaven and I'll see
Shane tonight," he said in his final statement. He was pronounced
dead at 6:19 p.m.
Gilson's parents, sister, a friend and a pastor witnessed the
execution, and about a dozen members of the victim's family watched
from behind a one-way glass.
He became the second person to be executed this year in
In 1998, Gilson was convicted of first-degree murder in Shane's
death in 1995. An autopsy showed fractures to the boy's skull, his
collarbone, shoulder blades, ribs, legs and spine and a tooth
missing from his jaw.
Court records indicate that four other children who lived with
Gilson and girlfriend Bertha Jean Coffman in a mobile home in
Cleveland County showed abuse, and two of the children were
emaciated. One of the children told investigators that Gilson beat
the boy with a board and then placed him in a bathtub as punishment
for going to the bathroom on a rug.
The girlfriend agreed to testify against Gilson in exchange for
a life prison sentence without the possibility of parole.
Megan Little, a juror in the case, said jurors were not told
about Bertha Coffman's deal with prosecutors and that "had I known
what I know now, I never would have given him death."
But Cliff Winkler, a former Cleveland County Sheriff's Office
investigator in the case, said he had "no doubt" that Gilson was
"The other children told me that he was the main abuser,"
Winkler said. "They said, 'Mama spanks us sometimes, but he beats
In Alabama, a man on death row for fatally stabbing a
68-year-old retired textile worker nearly 20 years ago was given a
lethal injection at Holman Prison near Atmore.
The six adult children of victim Ella Foy Riley watched as
44-year-old Willie McNair was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m. He
became the fourth person executed in the state this year.
Riley's daughter and five sons said they were disappointed that
McNair never looked at them in his final minutes.
"He would not face us today," said John Riley, a victim's son.
McNair's attorneys filed a stay of execution earlier in the
week, citing a jury recommendation that he be given life without
parole, but the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block the execution
Court records show that Riley was stabbed in the neck with a
pocketknife in her Abbeville home after refusing to give $20 to
McNair, who was described as a cocaine addict. The blade broke in
her neck, and McNair then used a kitchen knife during a violent
His confession implicated co-defendant Olin Grimsley, who
received a life sentence for first-degree robbery for his role in
the 1990 attack.