McALESTER, Okla. (AP) – A co-worker of a man beaten to death nearly two decades ago at the Tulsa convenience store where the two worked was executed by injection Thursday at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.
Michael Lee Wilson, 38, orchestrated the brief but brutal assault on Richard Yost, who aspired to one day manage the store. Wilson, who was convicted of first-degree murder, was the third person executed for the Feb. 25, 1995, crime; the fourth defendant is serving a life term.
Prison spokesman Jerry Massie said Wilson’s time of death was 6:06 p.m. Wilson gave brief remarks twice _ at first saying, “I love everybody,” then speaking up again after Warden Anita Trammel ordered the execution to begin.
“I love the world,” he said. “Love my daughters for me. I’m going to miss you always.”
Within 20 seconds of the execution starting, Wilson’s final words were, “I feel my whole body burning.” He showed no physical signs of distress.
Wilson’s sister, Staci Wilson, sang a hymn throughout the execution, including the line, “His soul is resting and it’s a blessing.” When he was pronounced dead, she recited Psalm 23.
After the execution, Wilson’s mother, Patricia Taylor, stood to capture a final look at her son on the gurney as a curtain began to close, blocking her view. Wilson’s fiancee sobbed beside her.
Yost’s family denied an interview request but issued a statement noting the third of three executions was behind them.
“Closure will be not hearing this on the news and reading about it in the paper,” the family said in a statement issued by Angela Houser-Yost, Yost’s widow. “That is my closure _ not to relive his death over and over but to remember the good times.”
Before the crime, the men loitered nearly an hour while waiting for customers to leave. Once they were gone, they struck Yost with an aluminum baseball bat 54 times in 131 seconds. They jostled a safe while removing it, but Wilson posed as Yost when a security company called to check an alarm.
And to dampen suspicions among middle-of-the-night customers, Wilson put on Yost’s uniform and worked the cash register as Yost lay dying in a pool of blood, beer and milk behind the cooler doors.
The state Board of Pardon and Parole last month rejected Wilson’s clemency request on a 4-1 vote. Ahead of the hearing, Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Miller told the panel that Wilson knew Yost had to die so he couldn’t identify his robbers.
Police trailed Wilson after he didn’t show up for work later that day and stopped all four men in a car about 14 hours after the crime. They carried multiple rolls of $5 bills and had pairs of Nike Air tennis shoes with the price tags still attached.
Wilson told officers that the four had planned for two weeks to rob and kill Yost, and a week before the killing even Yost knew something was up: He asked a police officer to increase patrols in the area because he believed Wilson and his friends intended to rob him.
The assault was captured on the store’s surveillance system _ video of Wilson stuffing money in his pockets and audio of the bat striking Yost as he pleaded for mercy.
“The repeated sounds of the baseball bat striking Mr. Yost and Mr. Yost’s screams will never leave my mind,” Tulsa Assistant District Attorney James D. Dunn wrote to the parole board. Dunn was a bailiff during the defendants’ preliminary hearings in 1995.
Yost, 30, had worked at the store three months.
In small talk 14 minutes before the assault began, Wilson asked Yost what kind of future he thought he had with the company. According to a summary of the case by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Yost told Wilson of his desire to manage the store some day.
Wilson laughed at Yost’s answer, and then replied, “For real?”
Darwin Brown, 32, was executed in January 2009, and Billy Don Alverson, 39, was executed in January 2011. The fourth defendant, Richard Harjo, who was 16 at the time of the crime and is now 35, was sentenced to life in prison.
(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Water tips to save money, help save the Earth
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon
- What you need to know about Alzheimer's disease in Arizona
- Spring clean your windows like a pro with these 8 tips
- 7 films that should have won best-picture Oscars
- New plumbing technology saves money and improves your home
- Survey shows Arizona CFOs optimistic about 2016
- How chronic pain can affect your love life
- 5 potential warning signs about your child's development