OKLAHOMA CITY —
The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board rejected clemency on Monday for a death row inmate scheduled to be executed next month for the beating death of a Tulsa convenience store manager almost 19 years ago.
The board voted 4-1 against commuting the death sentence of Michael Lee Wilson. The 38-year-old was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Richard Yost, who was killed during a robbery at the convenience store where he worked as the night clerk on Feb. 26, 1995. Prosecutors alleged that Wilson, who also worked at the convenience store, planned the robbery. He was among four people convicted in the case.
Wilson’s execution is set for Jan. 9.
The board declined to reduce Wilson’s sentence to life in prison without parole after Wilson apologized to members of the victim’s family and acknowledged the harm he had caused them.
“For that, I’m truly sorry,” he said during a teleconference from the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. “I was young, foolish. I’m a different person now.”
Wilson said that while on death row he has worked to help other inmates turn their lives around. Earlier, his attorney, Lanita Henricksen, said Wilson had responded well to the prison environment and “would cope well” in the structured setting.
“I’m asking y’all today to give me another chance at life,” Wilson said.
Wilson’s mother, Patricia Taylor, told the board she was “very sympathetic” with the Yost family but pleaded with the panel to spare her son’s life.
“I cannot imagine losing my baby son,” Taylor said.
“They’re begging for his life,” Henricksen added, referring to Wilson’s family.
Following the vote, Taylor and Wilson’s other relatives who attended the hearing wept and tried to console each other.
Yost’s body was found bound and beaten on the floor of the cooler of a QuikTrip convenience store. The 30-year-old had suffered a fractured skull and other injuries after he was struck as many as 54 times with an aluminum baseball bat, said Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Miller.
Miller said Wilson, a QuikTrip employee who worked with Yost, initiated and planned the robbery at least two weeks before Yost was killed. Three other men also were convicted in Yost’s death.
“This crime would never have occurred without Michael Wilson,” Miller said. “He is a manipulative individual.”
Miller also rejected defense claims that Wilson did not actually strike the victim with the bat, recalling trial testimony that Yost’s wounds were inflicted from a variety of directions.
“They all took turns hitting him,” Miller said. “There’s no doubt he had the intent to kill. It shows the callous nature of Michael Wilson.”
Yost’s widow, Pamela Houser-Yost, urged the board to deny clemency and said her husband’s death had forced her to raise her two sons, who were 8 and 2 1/2 at the time, as a single parent.
“My boys miss the love that Richard would have given them,” she said, adding that money was more important to the men that the life of her children’s father.
Two of Wilson’s co-defendants have already been executed. 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.