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Oklahoma executes man for two rapes, murders

After the wrong man spent years on death row for the 1986 and 1987 rapes and murders of two elderly women, Ronald Clinton Lott, 53, was put to death Tuesday for the crimes.
by Graham Lee Brewer Published: December 11, 2013
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An Oklahoma City man was put to death Tuesday for crimes he committed more than 20 years ago.

Ronald Clinton Lott, 53, was executed for the 1986 and 1987 rapes and murders of Anna Laura Fowler, 83, and Zelma Cutler, 93.

Lott lie motionless on the gurney as the curtain raised and then, nodded briefly to his brother, the only family member present to witness his death. Lott's lawyer, Lanita Henricksen was also present. None of the victims' family members were in attendance.

When asked if he would like to give a final statement, Lott simply answered “no.”

Once the drugs were administered, Lott closed his eyes and took in three heavy gasps of air before ceasing to move. He was pronounced dead at 6:06 p.m.

Lott was serving time for burglarizing and raping two other elderly Oklahoma City women in 1987, and he was not tied to the murder of Fowler and Cutler until the mid-90s, when DNA evidence freed a man wrongfully convicted of the crimes, linking them instead to Lott.

Wrongfully jailed

Robert Lee Miller Jr. spent 11 years in prison for Lott's crimes — seven on death row. In 1987, Miller told police he had received visions of the murders in his dreams, describing in detail what happened to both Fowler and Cutler on the nights of their murders.

The prosecutor, then Oklahoma County District Attorney Bob Macy, alleged that Miller knew details of the crime that only the killer could know.

Miller cooperated with police, giving details on camera for hours. While much of what Miller told investigators matched up with evidence found at both scenes, he also got a lot of the facts wrong. Miller maintained his innocence, claiming the angel of his deceased grandmother told him in the visions someone would attempt to frame him for the crimes.

In 1995, new DNA evidence in the case led to a new trial. Miller was initially linked to the crimes when his blood type matched semen found at the crime scenes. Thanks to advances in DNA technology, it was determined that the semen was not Miller's, and it was matched to Lott.

Jim Fowler, the son of Anna Fowler, said the case completely changed his perception of the death penalty. Fowler said before his mother's murder, and even the immediate years afterward, he was a proponent of the death penalty, but Miller's wrongful conviction changed that.

“We put the wrong man on death row with my mother,” Fowler said.

“The first thing that I can remember when the DNA came out and pinpointed Ronnie Lott … I said to my wife, ‘My God, honey, we could have killed an innocent man.'”

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by Graham Lee Brewer
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Graham Lee Brewer began his career as a journalist covering Oklahoma's vibrant music scene in 2006. After working as a public radio reporter for KGOU and then Oklahoma Watch, where he covered areas such as immigration and drug addiction, he went...
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Robert Miller was a lucky man, because had DNA not come along he'd be dead by now.”

Jim Rowan,
longtime Oklahoma County public defender

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