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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery - Alcohol
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: January 12, 1992
Date of birth: 1967
Victim profile: Wilson Mannon (male, 64)
Method of murder: Beating with a hammer
Location: New Castle County, Delaware, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in Delaware on March 17, 1995

Sentenced to death on April 30, 1993, for his part in the 1992 brutal slaying of a robbery victim.

For the first time in state history, Superior Court Judge Jerome O. Herlihy, sentenced three people to death for committing a single murder.

Nelson Shelton, along with his brother Steven Shelton, and cousin Jack Outten were all convicted of first degree murder for their part in the bludgeon death of a man who's body was found on East Seventh Street in Wilmington near the Christiana River.



Delaware Executes Man for '92 Killing

The New York Times

March 18, 1995

A 27-year-old man who with his brother and cousin bludgeoned to death an elderly man in 1992 was executed today by lethal injection at the Delaware Correctional Center.

When asked by the warden, Robert Snyder, if he had any last words before the injection was administered, Nelson Shelton said, "No." He was pronounced dead at 12:34 A.M. He had refused to appeal his sentence.

Mr. Shelton, his brother Steven, 29, and their cousin Jack Outten, 28, were convicted of killing 64-year-old Wilson Mannon with a hammer.

They were tried and sentenced in 1993. Steven Shelton and Mr. Outten are scheduled to be executed in April, but they plan appeals, which probably will delay their executions.


Nelson Shelton

On January 11, 1992, Nelson Shelton spent the afternoon drinking beer with his brother Steven, his cousin Jack Outten, & his girlfriend, Christina Gibbons. That evening, at a bar in New Castle, Delaware, they met 64 year old Wilson Mannon.

The group left the bar with Mannon, whose body was found the next day, beaten to death with the top of a washing machine. At trial the state's principal witness was Gibbons, who claimed at first that Nelson's brother was uninvolved in the murder. All 3 men were sentenced to death. Nelson decided not to appeal & was executed in 1995.

Nelson Shelton could not have been more different from his cousin Jack Outten. He entered the interview room crestfallen. A death-penalty "volunteer," he had ordered his lawyer not to appeal his sentence. His rationale was that if he could not work, he might as well die.

"What I miss most? The morning part. I had a lot of problems, but I loved to work. And I guess it comes from my father....I was always the first one on the job site. And I was just going along with the mornings"

During his time on death row, he stared back at a life that didn't seem worth continuing. He didn't like what he saw; his conscience was acting up. Like so many others, he sought salvation in religion.

Having found God, Nelson was reduced to meekness. It was hard to tell whether he was speaking from the heart or just parroting phrases from his new-found religion. He seemed sincerely resigned to his death.

"Well, yeah, the death penalty is OK & it's suitable. And I'm pretty much comfortable with that because I believe in the Holy Bible & I believe in every wonder that's in there....And it was right after the flood, when God told Moses, his son would be proof & multiply....And one of the first laws was if any man shall shed any man's blood, by man shall that man's blood be shed. And that was right."

Nelson's life of crime came back to torture both his sleeping & waking hours. Influenced by his older brother, who had taught him to be aggressive, Nelson had gotten deeper & deeper into trouble. Now he was taking medication to keep the memories from overpowering him.

"Recently, I tried some antidepressant medication. I wouldn't let them put me on those Thorazine or Halcion or any of that stuff. And I'm on just a regular, generic antidepressant, because I was sleeping too much. I was putting in 16, 12 hours in bed....I've been going, trying to struggle with a normal routine for the last week. It helps with the medication, the antidepressant."

Nelson had little success in school, where he alternated between the roles of class clown & class bully. His few good moments were eclipsed by repeated stints in juvenile detention. Called slow all his life, he had to search for the words to put his education into perspective.

"My dad used to always call me stupid. Literally. And I didn't know anything. Because no one showed me nothing. Not one person showed me anything that was right. Not one."

While I was photographing Nelson there were long periods of silence. I felt like a voyeur. He was near tears.

"And now I think about that man [Wilson Mannon]. And I think about his family & what his family's going through....Even though my father was rough with me & had a bad fuse, you know, to brutally kill like that-....I know he was a real kind, gentle guy, you know....And it's like he was getting ready to retire & enjoy life. And the way I see it now, is that before he could retire & enjoy the fruits of his labor, you know, 4 evil people came along & snuffed his life out....No, I...I'm really torn. Even though my life is in the balance, you know."



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