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Black Chronicle
"The Paper That Tells The Truth"

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Perry Publishing & Broadcasting.
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Ringleader in KillingTo Be Executed Today

He, Three Others Beat Store Clerk With Baseball Bat

 

By ROBERT E. BARNES
Special to the Chronicle

 

TULSA—The last of three men condemned to die for the 1995 fatal beating of a Tulsa convenience store clerk is set to be executed today.
Michael Lee Wilson, 38, the ringleader of the band of killers, is scheduled to be put to death for the slaying of Richard Yost, who was beaten to death at a QuikTrip store at 215 N. Garnett Rd.
A customer who entered the store about 6 a.m. Feb. 26, 1995, and saw no attendant found Mr. Yost’s body in a walk-in cooler.
Mr. Wilson worked at the store with Mr. Yost, 30, and later told police that he and three other men had planned the crime weeks in advance.
The men dragged Mr. Yost to the back of the store, handcuffed him and bound his ankles, evidence showed.
A security camera captured Mr. Wilson smiling and helping customers at the cash register while Mr. Yost was beaten to death with a baseball bat in the back of the store.
The men stole a safe from the store and the videotape from the security camera, both among items later recovered by police. Mr. Wilson, 19 at the time, was arrested later that day with his co-defendants.
Records show that less than six months before Mr. Yost’s death, Mr. Wilson supplied ammunition that was used in a fatal drive-by shooting.
In a filing prepared for Mr. Wilson’s clemency hearing, the state Attorney General’s Office said evidence in Mr. Yost’s death “shows beyond any doubt that Defendant masterminded the crime; the crime could not have been committed without Defendant due to his status as a store employee.”
“Defendant” was a reference to Mr. Wilson.
When Mr. Wilson was questioned by police, he said he and his co-defendants “planned on robbing the QuikTrip and that he knew Mr. Yost would be killed,” court records state. “He said that they had been talking about the robbery for two weeks. The plan was for him to assume the role of sales clerk once Yost was ‘taken care of.’ ”
During the Dec. 16 clemency hearing, Mr. Wilson apologized to Mr. Yost’s family and for the harm he had caused them.
“For that, I’m truly sorry,” he said during a teleconference from prison. “I was young, foolish. I’m a different person now.”
The Oklahoma Pardon & Parole Board voted 4-1 to deny clemency for Mr. Wilson.
Co-defendant Darwin Demond Brown, 18 at the time of Mr. Yost’s murder, was executed in 2009. Billy Don Alverson, who was 24 at the time, was executed in 2011.
The fourth defendant, Richard Harjo, was 16 at the time of the murder. Now 35, he is serving a life prison sentence without the possibility of parole.
After Mr. Alverson’s execution, Mr. Yost’s widow, Angela Yost, released a statement.
“This execution will not bring Richard back, nor will it give me the closure that I am looking for,” she wrote. “To be honest, I do not know if I will ever have true closure.”
Mr. Yost was a father of two sons, ages 2 and 8 when he died.
During Mr. Wilson’s trial, Mr. Yost’s widow and mother talked about the crime’s impact.
Angela Yost said her husband worked nights but would stay up for hours after his shift ended to attend school activities with his boys.
“The most important things in life for Richard and me were to raise the boys the best we could,” she testified. “When that was done, then we could do what we wanted. Richard and I put our needs and wants to the side because we thought we had a lifetime together.
“But now, I know that one person can change a family’s life in a matter of minutes. One day, you will have everything and the next day, you are living in hell for the rest of your life.”
Mr. Yost’s mother, Alma Dorn, testified during Mr. Wilson’s trial that her son “was a good father, a husband, and son, with a good moral sense of right and wrong. I respected him, as well as his opinion. He was my emotional security.”
“He told me he would take care of me in my old age and not to worry about anything in the future,” she said. “I knew he would always be there for me, and now he’s gone.”
Mr. Wilson’s execution, the first of 2014, is set for 6 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
The Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty plans a silent vigil to protest the execution outside the Governor’s Mansion in Oklahoma City.
“We are grieved that the state of Oklahoma is choosing to end this life and destroy another family as they prepare for the execution of Michael Lee Wilson,” said Adam Leathers, co-chairman of the coalition.
“We also send our thoughts and prayers to the family of Richard Yost, as well as those who must carry out this execution.”

 

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