Charles Coleman Executed For John Seward Murder

Charles Coleman Executed For John Seward Murder

Charles Coleman was executed by the State of Oklahoma for the murder of John Seward

According to court documents Charles Coleman would break into the home of John Seward who would be fatally shot during the robbery. Coleman would also murder Roxie Seward at the same time

Charles Coleman would also murder Will Stidham who was the father of his girlfriend in California. However he would later be acquitted for the murder. Coleman was also suspected of the murder of Russell E. Lewis

Charles Coleman would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death

Charles Coleman would be executed by lethal injection on September 10 1990

Charles Coleman Photos

charles coleman execution

Charles Coleman Case

Charles Troy Coleman, the first Oklahoma inmate to be executed in 24 years, was pronounced dead at 12:35 a.m. today.

Witnesses said Coleman’s last words were “Just tell everybody I love them. I have a peace and quiet heart.”

When a minister read from Matthew 7, Coleman said, “Praise God, praise God.”

State corrections department spokesman Jerry Massie announced the death, saying, “The execution has been carried out.”

Coleman, 43, was the first Oklahoma inmate to be killed by lethal injection, a process using three drugs to cause unconsciousness, paralyze the breathing muscles and stop the heart

Immediately after the execution, Gov. Henry Bellmon said, “After 11 years of appeals, including seven to the U.S. Supreme Court, the execution of Charles Troy Coleman has been carried out as provided by law.

“Justice has been done,” Bellmon said in a statement issued from the governor’s mansion.

“It is regrettable that some individuals are capable of committing heinous crimes against innocent citizens. The death penalty, justly applied, is one of society’s defenses against future violent crimes.

Coleman’s execution was scheduled to begin at 12:02 a.m. today.

Andrew Tevington, Bellmon’s chief of staff, said the execution was delayed. He said authorities had planned to use catheters “one in the left arm and one in the right” to administer the lethal injections.

“But Coleman’s right arm had been injured earlier in his life, causing the vein to be severed,” Tevington said.

Prison officials then administered the drugs in the left arm, Tevington said.

The curtain opened in the execution room at 12:22 a.m., and Coleman turned his head to the audience, smiled and and nodded at his attorney, Mandy Welch, and other witnesses.

He then said, “Just tell everybody I love them.”

At that point, the minister, Jack Hawkins, asked Coleman if he wanted him to read Psalms 27. Coleman nodded yes.

At 12:25 a.m., the warden said, “Let it begin.”

At 12:26 a.m., Coleman seemed to take a heavy breath, followed by a light cough or gasp and his eyes shut.

The procedure continued until a prison doctor entered the room and checked his heart with a stethoscope. Witnesses said Coleman took on a dark-blue look at about 12:30 a.m. Security at Oklahoma State Penitentiary was increased and all state correctional institutions were alerted that inmate tension might be heightened by the execution. But there were no problems reported immediately.

Coleman, sentenced to death for a 1979 murder in Muskogee County, was given the chance for a last statement before Oklahoma State Penitentiary warden James Saffle gave the order to begin the execution.

After Coleman’s death was confirmed, the body was taken to the medical examiner’s office for an autopsy

Earlier Sunday, the U.S. Supreme Court twice denied a stay of execution, the second denial after a denial from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

Supreme Court spokesman Ed Turner said both a stay request and a petition of certiorari (review) were denied. Justice Thurgood Marshall dissented and Justice Harry Blackmun did not participate, Turner said.

The final denial was the high court’s sixth in the Coleman case.

Bellmon, who had the final word on Coleman’s fate, reviewed a second clemency plea filed by Coleman’s attorneys, but took no action.

Opponents and proponents of the execution gathered Sunday night outside the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.

About 50 people walked silently up the street to the prison about 90 minutes before the execution. Many wore T-shirts saying, “Don’t Kill For Me.”

They joined a small group in front of the prison and they lit candles.

The marchers were followed by two Oklahoma City teen-agers who carried a sign saying, “One down, 114 to go,” in reference to the number of inmates on Oklahoma’s death row.

Outside the prison walls, the group grew to about 150 death penalty opponents and proponents.

Some sobbed, others celebrated. There were scattered heated discussions, but authorities said there were few problems with the crowd. Protesters carrying candles sang hymns and prayed as the midnight hour approached.

They left at 12:10 a.m., apparently not realizing the execution had been delayed.

About 30 supporters of the death penalty surrounded television reporters until word came down that Coleman was dead. They cheered and applauded at the news.

In contrast to the protesters’ earlier solemn strains of “Amazing Grace,” the last of the crowd broke into a ragged chorus of “Na Na, Hey Hey, Goodbye.”

Ken Busch, father of a young Yukon girl who was slain earlier this year, said he was there as a supporter of capital punishment.

“Where was the ACLU and all these opponents when the victims were murdered?” he asked.

Coleman was taken from his death row cell at 8:05 a.m. Sunday and escorted by guards across the light-filled rotunda, through a barred gate into a paneled hall.

Massie said Coleman was allowed visitors until 9 p.m. “He has had family and friends visiting all day,” Massie said.

They were not immediately identified.

Coleman made his final telephone calls about 10 p.m. Although a television was within his view, he did not watch news accounts of the events leading up to his death, Massie said.

Coleman did not request a last meal. He also turned down the standard dinner fare of macaroni goulash, salad, peas, cornbread and cake that other inmates ate Sunday night.

“Some (prison) officers ordered some stuff (about noon), and offered him a hamburger and he ate it,” Massie said. “He did not request it.”

Massie also said Coleman gave no instructions as to what to do with his personal effects from his death row cell.

At 11:30 p.m., the 12 media witnesses walked one block to the prison and were led into the viewing room. Other witnesses to the execution included four witnesses selected by Coleman. Corrections department officials and the sheriff, district attorney and judge of Muskogee County, where the crime was committed also were witnesses.

Coleman’s death came 24 years and one month to the day after the last state inmate was executed. James Donald French was electrocuted Aug. 10, 1966, for killing a cell mate.

The Oklahoma Legislature established lethal injection as the method for state executions in 1977, two years before Coleman was convicted of the shotgun slaying of John Seward of rural Muskogee County.

Seward and his wife, Roxie, were killed Feb. 9, 1979, after they apparently interrupted a burglary at relative’s home. Police found the Sewards’ billfolds and items from the house in Coleman’s pickup when he was stopped later the same day for speeding.

Fourteen states have executed 137 people since 1977, when Gary Gilmore of Utah became the first to be executed since the U.S. Supreme Court ended a 10-year moratorium on enforcing the death penalty.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, which has jurisdiction over Oklahoma, has allowed only three executions since the death penalty was reinstated. Two of the three, including Gilmore, went willingly.

Coleman’s criminal career began at the age of 15, when he was arrested on a burglary charge. He escaped juvenile detention a month later by pulling a gun on an officer.

His record shows at least 15 arrests in five states during the next 25 years. Many were for such charges as burglary, grand theft and grand larceny, but as he grew older, he was arrested for crimes such as robbery and assault.

In 1976, he was charged with first-degree murder in California in the bludgeoning death of the father of a female friend. He was acquitted when witnesses recanted their trial testimony.

The Sewards’ deaths occurred one day after the expiration of a travel permit issued by the California parole office to allow Coleman to look for a job in Muskogee County.

While waiting for trial in John Seward’s slaying, Coleman escaped from the Muskogee County jail.

Authorities say he fled to Luther, where he slit the throat of a Luther police officer and left him handcuffed in his patrol car. The officer survived.

Then, authorities say, Coleman stole a car from a man he fatally shot in Tulsa and was recaptured after he handcuffed and abandoned in the desert an Arizona deputy, who said Coleman was preparing to shoot him.

He was convicted and given a death sentence for the Tulsa murder, but the conviction was overturned in 1983 by the state Court of Criminal Appeals.

The court ruled the conviction was illegal because a potential juror who expressed doubts about the use of the death penalty was excused.

The charges were not refiled.

He also was never tried in the death of Roxie Seward.

In the nearly 11 years Coleman has been on death row, his case has been heard more than 20 times by five different courts, Attorney General Robert Henry has said.

In 1987, Coleman was within 36 hours of execution when he won a stay from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

His attorney, Mandy Welch, argued in his latest appeals that mental and physical abuse prevented Coleman from understanding the consequences of his behavior and from learning from his experiences.

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