Appeals court affirms death sentence for Arlington woman

Posted Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010


The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has affirmed the 2006 capital murder conviction and death penalty of an Arlington woman for the starving death of her roommate's 9-year-old son, according to court records.

A Tarrant County jury in June 2006 convicted Lisa Ann Coleman, now 35, of capital murder after hearing testimony about her role in the 2004 death of her roommate's son, Davontae Williams.

Coleman, in spring 2009, challenged the circumstances of her conviction and death sentence by filing a writ of habeas corpus -- a legal action alleging she was unlawfully put on death row.

On Wednesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued an order stating that it reviewed her allegations but adopted earlier "findings and conclusions" of the trial judge.

"Relief is denied," the appeals court judges stated in their order.

Coleman, however, can still pursue other legal remedies, said Danielle Kennedy, an appellate lawyer in the Tarrant County district attorney's office.

"This is an important step in the initial appellate round," Kennedy said. "But this is, by no stretch of the imagination, the final step."

A direct appeal was also filed by Coleman, but the Court of Criminal Appeals rejected it last December by affirming the conviction and death penalty, court records show.

Kennedy noted, however, that Coleman has taken her appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on a writ of certiorari.

"Basically, it's asking the Supreme Court to exercise its power of discretionary review," Kennedy explained. "We're nowhere near the finish line."

In the writ of habeas corpus, Coleman argued, among other things, that her lawyers at trial and during the direct appeal were ineffective, Kennedy said.

"She also raised five issues relating to technical complaints of the Texas death penalty scheme," Kennedy said.

But, the lawyer added, all those issues "have been answered many, many times over" in other cases.

Davontae Williams’ body was found in his mother’s home July 26, 2004. He had been beaten, bound and starved in the months leading to his death, authorities said.

He was 44.5 inches tall and weighed about 36 pounds when he died, according to earlier reports.
Arlington police arrested his mother, Marcella Williams, and Coleman, who was the mother's live-in girlfriend.

Marcella Williams in September 2006 pleaded guilty to capital murder and was sentenced to life in prison.

Child Protective Services investigated the family in 1999 and put Davontae and his younger sister in foster care after finding that Coleman had physically abused him.

After returning the children to their mother in 2001, CPS lost track of the family, a revelation that helped lead to sweeping changes at the agency.

The article contains information from the Star-Telegram archives

Emphasis added by H4K Editor