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July 7, 2009 9:20 AM   Subscribe

Last Words from Death Row Inmates

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posted by Ljubljana (79 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Let's do it."
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 9:25 AM on July 7, 2009


Let's just get this out of the way: MeTa.
posted by hermitosis at 9:27 AM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Something "atheists" something something "foxholes".
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:28 AM on July 7, 2009


Now that's a fan.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:29 AM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Pusha da button!" - #1

Yeah there's a lot of last minute Jesus on Death row.
posted by 2sheets at 9:31 AM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can't help it, these really make my eyes go all wet.

"I wish I could die more than once to tell you how sorry I am."
posted by hermitosis at 9:32 AM on July 7, 2009


I got kind of depressed going through these. Then I came to Mr. Viva Italia and I LOL'd. Now I feel icky.
posted by Pecinpah at 9:35 AM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I feel like I'm missing some context here. Who collects these last words? Why?

I'm split between feeling like these folks need mercy or kindness and like I'm peeking creepily into the last moments of someone's life.
posted by elmer benson at 9:36 AM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Something "atheists" something something "foxholes".
posted by Parasite Unseen


I'm still trying to decide if that is eponysterical or not.

Who collects these last words? Why?

The state. It is part of the legal record.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:38 AM on July 7, 2009


Hermitosis, this is what the dude did.

Also, the death penalty is fucked up. America needs to join the 20th century already. If you're keeping company with China, Iran and Saudi Arabia you are doing something wrong.
posted by chunking express at 9:39 AM on July 7, 2009 [11 favorites]


"Somebody needs to kill my trial attorney."
posted by pyramid termite at 9:39 AM on July 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


"I'm split between feeling like these folks need mercy or kindness and like I'm peeking creepily into the last moments of someone's life."

Watching truTV makes me feel that same exact way.
posted by sneakyalien at 9:41 AM on July 7, 2009


"Please tell the media, I did not get my Spaghetti-O's, I got spaghetti. I want the press to know."

—Thomas Grasso, executed in Oklahoma on March 20, 1995
posted by Kabanos at 9:42 AM on July 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


No, that's a fan.
posted by Rat Spatula at 9:44 AM on July 7, 2009


A lot of these are rather sad with some creepiness. but this one made me laugh. No, I'm not proud of that. (but still I laughed).
posted by Wink Ricketts at 9:44 AM on July 7, 2009


This is dangerous stuff. What if people were to realize that death-row criminals are fucked-up human beings, not cartoonish demons made of 100% pure concentrated evil? It would really suck the joy out of killing convicts.
posted by brain_drain at 9:54 AM on July 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


"I would suggest that when a person has a thought of doing anything serious against the law, that before they did, that they should go to a quiet place and think about it seriously."
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 9:54 AM on July 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


Going out with a joke...

If ever felt like feelign really depressed I'd check out the latest 'last statements' over in Texas... and the final meals (until they took that down)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:00 AM on July 7, 2009


This gives so more information on the 'joke' guy
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:05 AM on July 7, 2009


In that situation, knowing that my last words wouldn't do anything to enlighten the world or make it a better place, I'm afraid I'd opt for something stupid;

"So now I die, and it's the world's loss because this means that the Church of Scientology is one step closer to achieving their dark goals. They won today."

If for no other reason, eventually people would find it on the internet and wonder WTF was going on.
posted by quin at 10:11 AM on July 7, 2009


America needs to join the 20th century already.

It's true, and of course I strongly agree, but in fairness to the nation on the whole this is mostly a Texas problem. Not entirely, but mostly.
posted by The Straightener at 10:14 AM on July 7, 2009


"How's this for a headline? 'French Fries.'"--James French, executed 8/10/66
posted by box at 10:24 AM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


I am against the death penalty except when it involves web sites that make you click 300 times to see each individual item in the gallery.
posted by scottatdrake at 10:25 AM on July 7, 2009


The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has a website where you can access all of the last statements of the executed. Some of them are particularly effecting. Others are just creepy.
posted by orville sash at 10:30 AM on July 7, 2009


Wait, no, maybe this is a fan.

and we're 3 for 3 with NFL football so far
posted by Rat Spatula at 10:32 AM on July 7, 2009


"How do you keep a vindictive, hypocritical state in suspense?"
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:38 AM on July 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


Something "atheists" something something "foxholes".
Or perhaps religious people are more likely to find themselves on death row than atheists are.
posted by Flunkie at 10:45 AM on July 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


My guess is that the atheists spend their last words lecturing everybody about what idiots they are for believing in a sky superhero, and that gets a bit tedious.

He said, and then realized he should point out that he, too is an atheist.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:54 AM on July 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


"I've got one thing to say: Get your warden off this gurney and shut up. I am from the island of Barbados. I am the warden of this unit. People are seeing you do this."
dude that is five things.

"In interviews, he claimed to be over 129 years old, having previously been a district judge and a submarine commander."
So, in Parallel Universe Texas, this guy gets the state hospital for life.

"In 1994, prison psychiatrists changed their diagnosis of Delk from bipolar disorder to 'malingering to avoid the death penalty'."
There is just nothing positive to be said about any part of the Delk story.

The preachy ones always come off one of two ways to me; they're either honest foxhole-believers or they're using the preachiness as part of their "I didn't do it, you'll feel SOOO guilty about this later" schtick.
posted by Rat Spatula at 10:56 AM on July 7, 2009


I think this would be more interesting if they also told you what crime they had committed to get the death penalty.

As far as banning the death penalty, I only see two problems with it. The first is of course sending an innocent to die. The second is the obscenely cruel methods we use. Cyanide? Really? You can't get some Nitrous Oxide?
The concept of capital punishment I don't object to.
posted by MrBobaFett at 10:58 AM on July 7, 2009


I suspect that many of these last words are so "funny" is because the U.S. has an appalling track record of executing the mentally retarded. It wasn't declared unconstitutional until 2002.

Given that the range of functioning in mentally retarded individuals is quite large and that the people who end up on death row have rarely ever been properly cared for before they get there and are not generally given extensive medical or mental testing after they get there, I'd guess the number is much higher than we think.
posted by crush-onastick at 11:03 AM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


...Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Arizona, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Texas, Florida, Texas...
posted by inoculatedcities at 11:03 AM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


oops. actual human rights watch link
posted by crush-onastick at 11:05 AM on July 7, 2009


Robert Charles Comer was an inmate.
Strutting in from death row
with Al Davis on mind, he was not kind, boasting boisterously.
His face was teardrop tattooed.
His eyes obscured by flash,
with an open mouth about to speak-
not man enough for a mustache.
Asked en route to the gurney
If he had a last word?
witnesses all laughed and giggled and smirked
laughing at what they heard.
Arizona is a killer,
pretending that it's humane.
Justice comes in many forms,
but capital punishment is insane.
posted by the aloha at 11:12 AM on July 7, 2009


It's true, and of course I strongly agree, but in fairness to the nation on the whole this is mostly a Texas problem. Not entirely, but mostly.

Based on date from 1977 through 2007, Texas has executed 76% more people than the next state in line for total executions since that time, Virgina (405 compared to 98). However, Texas also has a population that is 70% greater than that of Virgina.

Granted, Texas has not shied away from the death penalty at all, but they're the 2nd largest state in the union for population. I am not a proponent of the death penalty by any means, but if you normalize for population, Texas isn't that much more barbaric in their administration of the death penalty than a state like Virginia. Virginia's population is 30% of Texas's population, and they've executed 98 people since 1977.

Similarly, Oklahoma has a population that is 15% of Texas's and they've executed 86 people since 1977. So in terms of sheer numbers, it IS a Texas problem, but only by around 24% as compared to other states utilizing the death penalty. Also, for a 10 year period, from 1998 to 2007, Texas has shown a sharp downward trend in their total executions by year, which is a positive thing. Not all states are boasting a similar trend.
posted by PuppyCat at 11:12 AM on July 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


I just have to add that I hate the death penalty.
posted by elmer benson at 11:18 AM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm kind of amazed that no one was resistant until the end. No "fuck you, you assholes, try to kill me will ya?"
posted by Xurando at 11:22 AM on July 7, 2009


"Hey, where's the ice cream? They told me they were bringing me in here for ice cream… Hey, what are you doing? Why are you strapping that thing to me? Cut it out, you could hurt somebody!"
posted by klangklangston at 11:35 AM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


"All I wanted was one Pepsi."
posted by klangklangston at 11:36 AM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


If I ever go like this, I can only hope that my last words will be "If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."

And then my friends and family will be like, huh? He wasn't that nerdy.

But the nerds will all be, like, it's I SHALL become, I SHALL become? Why use that as your last words and not get it right.

And then I will have my revenge on both my family and on nerds, in the form of niggling consternation, which is more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:54 AM on July 7, 2009 [19 favorites]


klangklangston, we decided that it would be in your best interest...
posted by the aloha at 12:07 PM on July 7, 2009


I have similar motivations with my last wishes, which are to be dressed up in a clown suit and shot out of a cannon into the sea, to the sound of carnival music, at my funeral. My ultimate hope was to lead people away from sadness, directly into, "What an asshole!"

Mrs. Brak says she won't do it, though.
posted by Brak at 12:11 PM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mrs. Brak says she won't do it, though.

Johnny Depp might. Look at what he did for Hunter S. Thompson.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:12 PM on July 7, 2009


I admire the ones who were able to keep their composure and avoid the gallows religious expositions.
posted by telstar at 12:46 PM on July 7, 2009


If this isn't the time to speak Klingon, then nothing is.
posted by Senator at 1:02 PM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Once again, a trip through MeFi has me very disappointed in myself.

First, I rather enjoyed this. So I'm a jerk.

Second, I was struck by the notion there are very few skilled orators on death row. I mean, c'mon, this is their chance at Famous Last Words. You'd think they would do some preparation and hit this one out of the park. At the very least they have a shot at a good meme.

Third, I found myself looking at the list of defendants with MR, trying to find the IQ of the 'smartest retard.'

Fourth, I wondered if I should put money on a Browns-Raiders Super Bowl this year.
posted by Fezzik's Underwear at 1:41 PM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Forgive them father, for they know not what they do".
posted by stinkycheese at 1:53 PM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


The concept of capital punishment I don't object to.

I see only two problems with murder: You kill someone and it strips your own humanity away. The concept of murder I don't object to.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:54 PM on July 7, 2009


No comment.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:03 PM on July 7, 2009


"Let's do it."
posted by Slack-a-gogo


Gary Gilmore, right? Broke a 10-year run of no executions in the US.

"Gary Gilmore's Eyes" - The Adverts
posted by Ron Thanagar at 2:08 PM on July 7, 2009



I suspect that many of these last words are so "funny" is because the U.S. has an appalling track record of executing the mentally retarded. It wasn't declared unconstitutional until 2002.


Yes, like the guy that Clinton signed the death warrant for, who did not finish his last meal and wanted it saved for later.
posted by Danf at 2:20 PM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Pusha da button!" - #1

He was-a Italian, so you-a know-a he would've spelled it that-a way!
posted by ignignokt at 2:23 PM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I covered the execution of Robyn Leroy Parks 17 years ago at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary along with 11 other reporters. As we gathered in the prison library immediately after his body was removed, we simply weren't certain what his last words were. It didn't help that Parks' girlfriend was screaming intermittently or that Parks muttered a bit.

The unfortunate Associated Press writer who had to file a story immediately thought Parks said "I'm still awake," perhaps a comment on the delayed effect of the lethal drugs that were being injected into his bloodstream. Some Web sites still list that as Parks' last statement. I didn't have good notes, but I told the gathered reporters that his statement sounded like a call-and-response directed at the Muslim imam who was one of Parks' witnesses.

My press pool obligation to attend a post-execution news conference prevented me from filing an immediate story because I wasn't available to write until long after our final deadline.

I had the luxury of time to report before filing my first-person, second-day story on Parks' final moments. Muslim chaplain Malik Muhammad told me that he knew precisely what Parks had uttered. Parks said: "As-salaam alaikum."

I've never witnessed another execution, nor have I wanted to.
posted by Bitstop at 2:32 PM on July 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


"Somebody needs to kill my trial attorney."

—George Harris, executed in Missouri on Sept. 13, 2000

"Please tell the media I did not get my Spaghetti-O's. i got spaghetti. I want the press to know.

—Thomas Grasso executed in Oklahoma, 1995.
posted by Cranberry at 2:35 PM on July 7, 2009


I came here to post just that, ignignokt. I really doubt he wanted it written that way.
posted by agregoli at 2:46 PM on July 7, 2009


I would have expected at least one gypsy/voodoo/witch's curse, threat of haunting, satanic prayer, that kind of thing. I guess it's a concept wholly made up by 80's horror movie scriptwriters.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:49 PM on July 7, 2009


I'm against the death penalty, not because there aren't people who deserve it, but rather because I don't trust any state not to abuse that level of power. However, I think carving out exceptions for the mentally retarded is a bad idea, because determining that a class of people doesn't have moral responsibility for their actions is bound to result in treating them like second class citizens in other areas of life. Basically, I'l like to avoid that sideshow and focus on the main fact that the death penalty is wrong in all cases.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:49 PM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Weirdly disturbing and compelling.

As for the death penalty, I defer to the words of Al Swearengen: "You can't cut the throat of every cocksucker whose character it would improve."
posted by Rangeboy at 3:08 PM on July 7, 2009


Executions Per Capita in US states (Yes, I know there are nits to pick with the methodology of this table.) I never realized Delaware was in the top 3, but it shouldn't have surprised me.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:17 PM on July 7, 2009


I think the argument runs the other way around, BrotherCaine: only those who have sufficient moral responsibility for their actions should be executed, and the insane and the mentally retarded do not have sufficient moral responsibility.

Also, anyone who can't exercise sufficient moral responsibility, for whatever reason, is a second-class citizen in that they need care and supervision (by first-class citizens) to interact with others, do not have voting rights and can't run for office, have limited economic rights because they can't (and shouldn't) sign contracts, etc. This doesn't mean their lives are of any less value, or their rights worthy of any less consideration.

I'm not in favor of the death penalty as such, but I don't believe that it justifies the sheer level of energy put into it as a focus for political activism. It's a distraction from the far larger problem of crime and punishment itself. The USA ends the lives of a couple of dozen people a year, and ruins the lives of millions with its contra-rehabilitative prisons.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:23 PM on July 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


As Moore lay dying, he whispered: "I want the last word I say to be Jennifer, J-e-n-n-i-f-e-r." Jennifer is the name of Moore's daughter by his niece Cindy Moore.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:24 PM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Danf, presumably this is that guy?

Whatever one thinks about the death penalty and its application to the developmentally disabled, unless Rector was disabled before he shot himself, I don't think his case can get sorted into that particular bucket.

I'm still facinated by Delk. Was he mentally ill, or was he faking it? What does "faking it" even mean?
posted by Rat Spatula at 4:00 PM on July 7, 2009


Mississippi | White
Texas | Black
Texas | Hispanic
Mississippi | White
Texas | Black
Texas | Black
Texas | Hispanic
Texas | Hispanic
Texas | Black
Texas | Black
Texas | White
Texas | Black
Texas | Hispanic
Texas | White
Texas | Black
Texas | Hispanic
Georgia | White
Texas | White
Florida | White
Florida | White
Texas | Black
Texas | Black
Texas | Black
Texas | Black
Arizona | White
Ohio | White
Texas | Black
Texas | White
Texas | Hispanic
Arkansas | White
Texas | Hispanic
...
I see a pattern developing
posted by mattoxic at 6:07 PM on July 7, 2009 [3 favorites]




"Please tell the media, I did not get my Spaghetti-O's, I got spaghetti. I want the press to know."
—Thomas Grasso, executed in Oklahoma on March 20, 1995

I can only hope my last words will be as funny.
posted by nola at 6:31 PM on July 7, 2009


"Don't cry, it's my situation. I got it. Hold tight, It's going to shine on the golden child. Hold tight. I love you, I'm through with my statement."

Why do I find that so beautiful?
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 7:39 PM on July 7, 2009


.
posted by Space Kitty at 7:46 PM on July 7, 2009


"Also, anyone who can't exercise sufficient moral responsibility, for whatever reason, is a second-class citizen in that they need care and supervision (by first-class citizens) to interact with others, do not have voting rights and can't run for office, have limited economic rights because they can't (and shouldn't) sign contracts, etc. This doesn't mean their lives are of any less value, or their rights worthy of any less consideration."

Categorically, people with developmental disabilities are not barred from voting, running for office, nor do they have limited economic rights nor are they barred from signing contracts. Now, some individuals do use trustees for their financial and contractual obligations and assistants to help them understand contracts, lease agreements, ballots, whatever. And yes, there are people who are under more strict conservatorships where others make decisions. The key here, is that these conservators and trustees are obligated by law to act in the best interest of the individual in question. This is different than saying that these individuals do not have these rights. Many people with MR vote, participate in government, sign contracts, etc., each with differing levels of assistance.

The issue with people with developmental disabilities and the death penalty is about more than excusing their crimes due to the fact that they should or shouldn't be held morally accountable, it is largely because they are extremely vulnerable in the justice system and that has been taken advantage of. Many people with MR like to please authority and do not understand their rights. They are much, much more likely to give false confessions than the general population, not ask for legal help, and sometimes make unreliable witnesses in their own defense. Too many cops and prosecutors have stopped investigating a case after a person with MR confesses, thinking they have their person and jeopardizing the search for true justice.
posted by Bueller at 8:37 PM on July 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


Based on date from 1977 through 2007, Texas has executed 76% more people than the next state in line for total executions since that time, Virgina (405 compared to 98)

413%, actually.

Yes, like the guy that Clinton signed the death warrant for, who did not finish his last meal and wanted it saved for later.

That gives me the creeping horrors. How could anyone hear that at the time and not go "Hey, guys? Might want to wait a bit here. After so many years of this process, this guy still doesn't understand what's going on..." ?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:48 PM on July 7, 2009


After flipping through some of them I noticed several of the Texas inmates mention an Irene in their last words. She is apparently Irene Wilcox, who acts as a spiritual adviser to many Texas inmates on death row. From a quick google search she seems to have attended several other executions with her husband Jack.
posted by lilac girl at 9:09 PM on July 7, 2009


How could anyone hear that at the time and not go "Hey, guys? Might want to wait a bit here. After so many years of this process, this guy still doesn't understand what's going on..." ?

Because they think he's faking it?

Too many cops and prosecutors have stopped investigating a case after a person with MR confesses, thinking they have their person and jeopardizing the search for true justice.

This seems like an argument for creating laws related to the admissibility of confessions from mentally retarded individuals who do not have lawyers present, and the ability to waive right to counsel for such individuals. I'm sure addressing sentencing discrepancies between life w/o parole and death penalty for MR individuals is also important, but is a whole lot further down on my list of injustices.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:32 PM on July 7, 2009


My earlier comment seems facile now in the face of Bueller's point. Though Rector presumably* wasn't disabled when he committed the crime, once in the system, he was at a far-greater disadvantage than a non-disabled individual. I'm ashamed to say I hadn't considered this though now it's glaringly obvious. In fact it makes Rector's case a perfect capsule of the debate; even if you stipulate that he was guilty as hell, you still have to decide if the mentally disabled play the game for the same stakes.

(I'd say they should play for the same stakes, and the fact that executing DD individuals squicks one out should be one's cue that the stakes are incorrect.)

It's entirely possible that somebody heard his statement, and went "Hey guys...", and got told to shut up. The cruel humans of the world do not all sit on one side of the bars on death row.

*Everything I've read (not much) implies that his disability was brought about by his suicide attempt.
posted by Rat Spatula at 9:32 PM on July 7, 2009


And BrotherCaine, we do have some controls for whether MR/DD people are hurled into the thresher of justice, but "Hartje ruled that Rector was competent to stand trial."
posted by Rat Spatula at 9:47 PM on July 7, 2009


Because they think he's faking it?

Well what else would he be doing? Of course he's faking it- the State is about to kill him, so he HAS to be faking it. Even if he isn't faking it he's faking it. That's one of the many reasons why capitol punishment is so barbaric, once sentence is passed every action the condemned makes is seen through the prism of their impending doom.

I'm sure addressing sentencing discrepancies between life w/o parole and death penalty for MR individuals is also important, but is a whole lot further down on my list of injustices.

Well yeah, it's such a pissy trivial discrepancy too.
posted by mattoxic at 3:20 AM on July 8, 2009


"It was done out of fear, stupidity and immaturity. It wasn't until I got locked up and saw the newspaper; I saw his face and smile and I realized I had killed a good man."


posted by I-baLL at 7:54 AM on July 8, 2009


http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/photogallery/last_words.html?curPhoto=29
posted by I-baLL at 7:54 AM on July 8, 2009


The concept of capital punishment I don't object to.

I see only two problems with murder: You kill someone and it strips your own humanity away. The concept of murder I don't object to.


Seriously, what is that even supposed to mean? Like look I'm being cute aping your statement and rebutting it at the same time? You could at least have listed the two problems you promised. You only gave one and it is a part of the reason one would support the death penalty. Killing someone strips away your humanity. All the more reason to stop you.
posted by MrBobaFett at 3:10 PM on July 8, 2009


Killing someone strips away your humanity. All the more reason to stop you.

So killing that person does... what, exactly?

Capital 'punishment' is not only a misnomer, it is wholly indefensible.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:10 PM on July 8, 2009


So killing that person does... what, exactly?

Strips away societies humanity? No wait...
posted by chunking express at 7:58 AM on July 9, 2009


Second, I was struck by the notion there are very few skilled orators on death row.

it's the american criminal system at work - poor orators get electrocuted on death row

good orators get elected on capitol hill
posted by pyramid termite at 9:06 AM on July 9, 2009


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