Lost Words in the Chamber
July 1, 2013 2:38 PM   Subscribe

Lost Words in the Chamber. "This blog will post the last words of criminals executed in the United States, starting with Texas, the state with the highest annual number of executions." Via NYT.
posted by milquetoast (15 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Clark County, Indiana keeps a site that lists every execution in the US since 1976 and has extra information about the crime, last words, last meal, etc. for everyone who's been executed since 2000.
posted by Copronymus at 2:49 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

From what I have read, the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham was a total miscarriage of justice. Sadly, I doubt it's unique in that respect.
posted by metagnathous at 2:57 PM on July 1, 2013

Related: Corey Dargel's Last Words From Texas (NSFW image on the page of inmates being strip searched). It's a song cycle that sets words of various inmates, er, last words.
posted by lownote at 3:02 PM on July 1, 2013

This one's haunting:

Kelsey Patterson #999065; May 18, 2004
Statement to what. State What. I am not guilty of the charge of capital murder. Steal me and my family's money. My truth will always be my truth. There is no kin and no friend; no fear what you do to me. No kin to you undertaker. Murderer. [Portion of statement omitted due to profanity] Get my money. Give me my rights. Give me my rights. Give me my rights. Give me my life back.
But the Dutch Schultz poesy is unfortunately undermined by the facts. Defendent was obviously and indisputably mentally ill- the notoriously merciless TX State Parole Board recommended his sentence be commuted to life. The equally notoriously merciless Rick Perry refused to do so.

Patterson appeared to be unable to understand that he was actually being executed. He was speaking the last phrase of his statement as the drugs took effect.

He seems to have definitely killed the people he was accused of killing (the only known motivation for the shooting of one of the victims was that he and Patterson had once argued about whether Patterson or the victim's son was a better football player; the other victim because she saw the body and screamed.)

Still though, it's impossible for me to see whose interest this execution served, so

posted by hap_hazard at 3:29 PM on July 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

Texas: Pro- some lives more than others.

(I'm a native. I can say that. Don't the rest of you start.)
posted by mudpuppie at 3:37 PM on July 1, 2013

I have yet to come across a blog rehashing of the source materiel more complete, comprehensive, or haunting than where they're all getting it. This is a hyperlinked table hosted by the state of texas of all 500 last statements cross referenced with a brief account of the State's case against them, race, age, and the TDCJ Numbers you would need in order to look up more information on them. I was this close to making my own post.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:42 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

One thing this site has is links to news stories, as well as the last words and accounts of the state's case. For example

Monty Delk
Delk's mental competency was reviewed by his trial court in 1997. The court ruled his behavior, which at the time required him to be gagged in the courtroom because of his repeated outbursts, was voluntary.

In a recent death row interview, Delk claimed to be a commando, the prison warden and a police chief, among others. He said a 900,000-foot submarine was at the prison the previous night and that he had helped open the hatch on the vessel. He gave his age as 50, then 99, then said he didn't remember.

"I was born old," he said, adding that he had been married 95 million years ago, that he had children born in prison and that he craved vanilla wafers.
So yeah a person could be faking that, as the state contended, but his last words were
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.
(the paper has that last bit as "You are not in America. This is the island of Barbados. People will see you doing this." )

Which is either some SUPREME COMMITTMENT to the gag, or else he was really that nuts. So I do think it's a valuable addition, even if I could look it up myself.
posted by hap_hazard at 3:52 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't know what I expected, but that so many of these are about love, forgiveness and faith in spirit and Divinity is heartbreaking. It just underlines the essential humanity of these people and the brutality of retributive killing. Granted, many of them did absolutely horrible and inhumanly cruel things--but there have to be better ways of living and dealing with our broken world with more compassion and less rage.
posted by byanyothername at 4:10 PM on July 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

posted by Going To Maine at 4:55 PM on July 1, 2013

That so many of those executed talk about heaven doesn't seem surprising, to me. The crime of murder is a lot more terrible if you're an atheist than if you're a Christian. Christians think the dead go on to some final reward. Atheists, generally, think this is it here, and if you take life away from a person you're destroying them.
posted by JHarris at 5:24 PM on July 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'm not a Texas apologist by any means, but I think Oklahoma deserves some singling out for being the state with the highest number of executions per-capita.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:01 PM on July 1, 2013

I noticed several of them thanked a 'Father Walsh' for helping them to find peace and seek forgiveness from the victims' families. Bless him.
posted by NoraCharles at 7:47 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

I've been to the Huntsville prison museum and it's very unsettling as you'd imagine. Combined with the church group that was testifying in the town band stand, it made for a strange day.
posted by arcticseal at 8:56 PM on July 1, 2013

I have nothing to add to this discussion except that my friend Daniel is the one who runs this blog and he's a really cool guy.
posted by saladin at 7:00 AM on July 2, 2013

Reading through some of the executed's histories, it's easy to be lulled into the sense that these people deserve and accept their fate, which lulling can be compared to the drugs used to sedate and paralyze the convicted before as they are executed.

Encountering evidence that Texas, specifically, has executed the probably insane and the probably innocent suggests strong ideological commitments to capital punishment generates horrors.

mudpuppie, as long as I am a living citizen of the United States, I will revile states that aggressively pursue capital punishment and I will say just as much, native or no.
posted by mistersquid at 8:00 AM on July 2, 2013

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