December 10, 2013
Shortly after 6 pm CST, on December 10, 2013, Ronald Clinton Lott was executed by the state of Oklahoma. The execution was carried out at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma. Ronald was 53 years old. Ronald was executed for the rape and murder of 83-year-old Anna Laura Fowler on September 2, 1986, and for the rape and murder of 93-year-old Zelma Cutler on January 11, 1987. Ronald spent the last 11 years of his life on Oklahoma’s death row.
According to court documents, Ronald grew up in extreme poverty in Texas as the youngest of ten children. His family lived in a five room shack that had no heat or running water. The first three weeks of Ronald’s life was spent in the hospital. During the first year of his life, his mother was paralyzed, which allegedly prevented them from bonding. Ronald claimed that his father was abusive, emotionally unavailable, and regularly beat his children using a large switch. At the age of 10, Ronald, his mother, and his next oldest sibling left his father and went to live in Lawton, Oklahoma. After living in Lawton for one year, Ronald and his mother moved to Oklahoma City, where she started working two jobs, leaving Ronald without adult supervision much of the time. Around this time, Ronald began using drugs and alcohol.
At the age of 12, Ronald was kicked out of the house by his mother, leaving him homeless and hungry. At the age of 14, Ronald was arrested for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. At the age of 16, Ronald was placed in the Oklahoma Children’s Center juvenile home after his mother alerted authorities that he had violated probation for “lack of parental control.” A later investigation determined that during his time at Oklahoma Children’s Center, widespread abuses occurred, including hog-tying children and leaving them in solitary confinement and failing to provide education. In 1985, at the age of 25, Ronald was involved in car accident in which he received a “mild to moderate head injury,” which later testing indicated could have caused some brain damage.
On September 2, 1986, around 10:30 pm, Anna Laura Fowler was attacked in her home. Anna, living alone, was brutally attacked, suffering severe contusions on her face, arms, and legs, in addition to multiple rib fractures, indicating that her attacker likely sat on her ribs. Anna was repeatedly raped before dying of asphyxiation.
Zelma Carter, who lived across the street from Anna, also lived alone. In the early morning hours of January 11, 1987, Zelma, like Anna, was brutally attacked in her house. Also like Anna, Zelma suffered severe contusions on her arms and legs in addition to multiple rib fractures. Zelma was also raped and died of asphyxiation.
Due to the limited DNA testing available at the time, Robert Miller was erroneously arrested and convicted of the crimes. After serving 10 years behind bars, seven of which were on death row, Robert was released. Advances in DNA testing showed that there was no evidence Robert was at either of the crime scenes.
On March 22, 1987, after Robert had been arrested, Grace Marshall was attacked and raped in her home. On May 7, 1987, Eleanor Hoster was attacked and raped in her home. Both Grace and Eleanor were elderly ladies, like Anna and Zelma, who lived alone. The attacks on Grace and Eleanor bore strikingly similarities to the attacks on Anna and Zelma, with the exception that they were not killed.
Ronald Lott was arrested, charged, and ultimately pled guilty to the attacks on and rapes of Grace and Eleanor. Lott was sentenced to 25 years in prison and released on December 22, 1998.
DNA evidence, which eventually proved Robert Miller’s innocence, also connected Lott to the rape and murders of Anna and Zelma. In December of 2001, Lott was convicted of the murder of Anna and Zelma. On January 18, 2002, Lott was sentenced to die by lethal injection for his crimes.
On Friday, November 8, 2013, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole board voted 4-1 against clemency for Ronald Lott. At his clemency hearing, Jim Fowler, the son of Anna, asked the parole board to grant Ronald clemency and commute his sentence to life in prison saying "I want to put him through as much hell as I had. I want him to experience every ugly day that prison has to offer. No. I don't want him put to sleep. I want him to be an old man. The longer the better." Jim is no stranger to the death penalty; his son was executed in 2011, however it was his mother’s case that changed his view on the death penalty, due to Robert being falsely convicted of murdering his mother. Other family members also testified at Ronald’s clemency hearing. They asked for Ronald’s execution be carried out.
Please pray for peace for the families of Anna Laura Fowler and Zelma Cutler. Please pray for healing for Grace Marshall and Eleanor Hoster and their families. Please pray for strength for the family of Ronald.