McALESTER, Okla. - 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 lethal injection today at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.
Michael Lee Wilson, 38, orchestrated the brief but brutal assault on Richard Yost, whose dream was 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.
The men loitered nearly an hour while waiting for customers to leave, then 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.
Prison spokesman Jerry Massie said Wilson's time of death was 6:06 p.m. today.
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.
"Defendant planned the murder and ensured its completion as he could pose as the QuikTrip attendant while Mr. Yost lay in the cooler dead or dying," Miller wrote.
Yost's widow, Pamela Houser-Yost, told the board their two sons missed the love Richard Yost would have given them and urged its members to deny clemency.
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 chilling 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.