March 10th, 2009
01:25 PM ET

Final words on Death Row

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/01/19/mexican.execution.violation/art.tx.chamber.gi.jpg]

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

"Only the sky and the green grass goes on forever and today is a good day to die."

– David Martinez, executed on July 28, 2005 for strangling a 24-year-old woman.

"Uh, I don't know, Um, I don't know what to say. I don't know. (pauses) I didn't know anybody was there. Howdy.”

– James Clark, executed on April 11, 2007 for raping and murdering a 17-year-old girl

"Let's do it, man. Lock and load. Ain't life a [expletive deleted]?"

– G.W. Green, executed on November 12, 1991, for killing a probation officer.

Some asked for forgiveness. Some offered prayers. Several spoke to parents and children, or to family members of the lives they took. Others cursed, or sang, or lashed out in defiance at perceived enemies. A few thanked the warden. Then there were the ones who joked. Or simply said nothing.

Most never gave their victims a chance to speak. But the condemned prisoners who entered the death chamber in Texas were allowed to offer last statements. Their words have been transcribed and published online by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

They start with Charlie Brooks Jr., who was executed December 7, 1982 for kidnapping and murdering a mechanic. Brooks was the first of 433 men and women put to death by Texas over the last 27 years. His life ended with two words: “Be Strong.”

Kenneth Wayne Morris was the most recent. He shot and killed James Moody Adams in a home invasion in 1991. Before receiving a lethal injection on March 4, Morris was asked if he had anything to say. This was his response:

"Yes, I have to say that I am sorry for all the pain that I have caused you and your family. I only have love in my heart. I hope that you can all forgive me. I pray that you can all forgive me. Thank you for standing by me and being there for me. I am ready to go home. My baby I will always be with you. I really am sorry."

Sometimes, the regret is laced with anger. Sentenced to death for 2 drug related killings, Roy Pippin met his fate March 29, 2007. Pippin said he was sorry while maintaining his innocence:

"Yes sir, I charge the people of the jury. Trial Judge, the Prosecutor that cheated to get this conviction. I charge each and every one of you with the murder of an innocent man. All the way to the CCA, Federal Court, 5th Circuit and Supreme Court. You will answer to your Maker when God has found out that you executed an innocent man. May God have mercy on you."

“My love to my son, my daughter, Nancy, Kathy, Randy, and my future grandchildren. I ask for forgiveness for all of the poison that I brought into the US, the country I love. Please forgive me for my sins. If my murder makes it easier for everyone else let the forgiveness please be a part of the healing. Go ahead Warden, murder me. Jesus take me home."

Johnny Conner murdered a clerk during a robbery in 1998. He gave his last statement on August 22, 2007. It included this message to an unidentified witness:

"Could you please tell that lady right there, can I see her, she is not looking at me. I want you to understand something, hold no animosity towards me. I want you to understand please forgive me. When I get to the gates of Heaven I will open my arms for you. Please forgive me, do not worry about what is going to happen. I don't want you to worry. I don't want you to suffer, I am not mad at you. Shed no tears for me. Even though you don't know me, I love you, I love all of ya'll. I ask ya'll in your heart to forgive me. "

Karla Tucker was convicted of hacking two people to death. Her case received international attention. Tucker's last statement was given February 3, 1998:

"Yes sir, I would like to say to all of you – the Thornton family and Jerry Dean's family that I am so sorry. I hope God will give you peace with this. Baby, I love you. Ron, give Peggy a hug for me. Everybody has been so good to me. I love all of you very much. I am going to be face to face with Jesus now. Warden Baggett, thank all of you so much. You have been so good to me. I love all of you very much. I will see you all when you get there. I will wait for you."

Toronto Patterson was 17 when he murdered 3-year-old Ollie Brown. He was 24 when he was executed. This was his last statement:

"I am sorry for the pain: sorry for what I caused my friends, family and loved ones. I feel a great deal of responsibility and guilt for all this crime. I should be punished for the crime, but I do not think I should die for a crime I did not commit. I am sorry, but nothing can bring Kim, Ollie, and Gigi back. But I pray my death brings peace for my family that may unite the family. I ask for your forgiveness and that you will all forgive me. I have no animosity; I am at peace and invite you all to my funeral. We are still family. I love you all, Momma, Aunt Deidra, family and everybody. I love you. I am ready, Warden."

Some of the prisoners chose to keep their last statements very short.

John Barefield, executed March 12, 1997: “Tell Mama I love her.”

Charlie Livingston, executed November 21, 1997: “You all brought me here to be executed, not to make a speech. That’s it.”

You can read all the last statements on the department's web site.

Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Juan Gama, Los Angeles

    God will forgive and bring forth the soul of all who ask for forgiveness into His kingdom. Yes, into His kingdom. Which we assume to be heaven. But we here on earth have to deal with those that do not abide by the laws of our kingdom, which is society. Laws that help to keep us all safe within society. Here on earth we have to deal with individuals that would do as they please regardless of what the laws of society say. These individuals know exactly what the laws say, but they believe themselves to be above the law, and therefore free do us any harm that they so choose to do. They steal, injure, rape and kill anyone that they so choose to target and will continue to do so until they are stopped. Then they cry for forgiveness. Their forgiveness might come at the gates of heaven, which being good members of society we must quickly help them on their way to reach this goal.

    March 10, 2009 at 9:15 pm |
  2. Marcus

    many of these prisoners do not sit in jail and sulk. They think only of themselves....many harass and threaten the gaurds and wardens. Some still kill while in death row. And lets also be real... 3 meals a day, and in some cases internet and tv access. We are not as hard on them as many here have suggested. on the other hand
    I agree with many on this thread about forgiveness. There is nothing as freeing as the power of forgiveness. And to those who say that people can only say they would forgive without experiencing loss you are wrong. Look into the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa after Apartheid. Many of the meetings are filmed. Powerful powerful stuff, you see women who are now dangerously underweight since their son who was the main provider is now dead. They sit across the table from the killers...and say I love you, and I forgive you. Crazy stuff. God is amazing.

    March 10, 2009 at 9:05 pm |
  3. Rachel

    I have to say it opens up ur eyes and mind to read their last thoughts I agree they didnt give theyre victims a chance they shouldnt have a chance but then I read the comments and think they do feel guilty for theyre actions and are sorry but then I also have to agree that what if it was me at the wrong place at the wrong time I would pray that death would be the last resort but something we all can agree on REALITY SUCKS

    March 10, 2009 at 8:50 pm |
  4. Annie Kate

    Interesting statements. I guess they felt they better apologize for something so they might have a chance to end up at the pearly gates instead of the fiery gates of Lucifer's domain. It doesn't hurt to hedge your bets especially at the end. Its the only chance you're going to have.

    March 10, 2009 at 8:42 pm |
  5. Avery from PA

    I can only hope that in my lifetime we will come to see the tragedy of these people's deaths. Maybe they deserve to die. Maybe not. It is not for us to decide. If you believe in judgment, or karma, then find peace knowing that they will be judged same as everyone else. Execution is another word for state mandated murder. These people have been murdered, the same as their victims, except that their murders are all nice and legal, "moral" even.There is nothing moral, or right or just about the way these people have died. I am disgusted that our country still condones this barbaric and medieval practice, and I feel no pride in being an American when we discuss the death penalty. Someday we will see how wrong we have been. I can only hope that day comes soon.

    March 10, 2009 at 8:36 pm |
  6. Ry

    I haven't always been like this, but I now believe that murder for murder is wrong. An execution is just government assisted murder. I also think that it's a far greater agony to have to live in a cell with nothing to think about except how you ruined your life, and the lives of others. Some of these people wish for death, because they are going insane from what has transpired. I pray God does show these people the light, and I hope they are shown forgiveness if they ask for repentance.

    The Bible may say that you should take an eye for an eye, but that was in Exodus. Christians should live their lives from the New Testament, not the Old. It is just as much of a sin to murder someone for their crimes as it is to murder someone who is innocent. In fact, most Christians should already know, God sees no differences in sin. Sin is Sin, and that is all He sees.

    March 10, 2009 at 8:30 pm |
  7. Lasharella

    March 10th, 2009 7:41 pm ET
    I believe The Bible does say, (an eye for an eye)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    It says that somewhere, Lampe, and it also says " Thou shall not kill!!!!!!"
    Don't matter 'bout me however, I don't believe anything that the Bible espouses...it's all a bunch of hooey to me! Trust!!
    How many times does it advice you to forgive your brother/sister? 77 times...or some crap like that?!!
    Just ask Bush the ex Gov of TX, how many times he had forgiven ( commuted ) anyone's sentance!! We heard what happened to Tammy Baker!! Bible??? Please!! Whatever!!!

    March 10, 2009 at 8:21 pm |
  8. Christina Los Angeles, California

    robert honeycutt- I feel the same way.

    March 10, 2009 at 7:57 pm |
  9. aDUB in TN

    Killing is unethical and immoral whether at the hands of an individual or the State.
    The irrevocable act of execution cannot be justified by the fallible machinations of the State nor the faulty opinions of individuals.
    Just and peaceful ends can only be achieved through non-violent means. Actions and thoughts based on fear and anger can only create more fear and anger, not justice.
    Compassion is the highest achievement in life. For (and to) those who have transgressed against us: to have compassion is the only way to grow and lead a redeeming life.
    I can attest to this as my beautiful cousin was brutally murdered by her jealous ex-boyfriend. He eluded justice for 22 years, but advances in forensics brought him to answer for his crime. Now he is incarcerated. He has the remainder of his life to contemplate his actions as we continue to mourn the loss of a beautiful life and the promise that it held.

    March 10, 2009 at 7:52 pm |
  10. Valerie

    Yeah an eye for an eye, but who chooses who makes that decision?
    There are no jury's or judges in the bible...

    March 10, 2009 at 7:51 pm |
  11. lampe

    I believe The Bible does say, (an eye for an eye)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 10, 2009 at 7:41 pm |
  12. Juliette

    Yes, Jesus forgives but you still need to pay the price for murdering innocent people. These people were no saints.

    March 10, 2009 at 7:38 pm |
  13. Michelle Johnson, Lomita, CA

    Jesus always forgives, no matter how horrible the crimes. If they receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior, Yeshua as Messiah, and ask forgiveness, they will go to heaven. That is the great mercy of God.

    March 10, 2009 at 6:44 pm |
  14. Neil B Fisher

    Looking and reading all the e-mails all I can feel is that we as a people have all turned our backs opon ourselves. What you say in words is what you have in your hearts no compassion not wanting justice- just wanting revenge just wanting to get even, As the song goes there truly is somthing wrong in the world today and I don't know what it is. I say for he or she who has NEVER committed a sin you throw the first stone.(can't be done can it)
    That is how I feel about it.

    March 10, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  15. allen

    Bullets are cheaper and quicker, if placed directly behind the head. Beyond that, I would like to see a punishment that duplicates the crime, perpetrated upon the guilty. I believe that would be an effective deterrent. A raped rapist might be less inclined, a machine can be easily designed to stab, drownings are easy-tie a cinder block around the neck and toss him(her) in. Sounds brutal doesn't it? That's because it WAS, to the victims. It would be nice to know that some criminals would have to consider that as a consequence prior to commiting a crime. Unfortunately, most folks never get it. Crime happens because someone is angry, or feels entitled to (insert favorite vice) at someone else's expense. There is no social cure, except in dreams.

    March 10, 2009 at 6:08 pm |
  16. Kelly

    Yes, they are all sorry... but the amount of certainty we have they mean it is flaked by their guilt. They all believe their salvation is jesus all mighty, entering the gates of heaven and forgiveness be granted at their passing. I'm not religious, I wouldn't forgive these people. I would see justice in this, but nothing more. If a jury and or judge finds them guilty beyond a resonable doubt so be it. Technology today allows us to prove that guilt through physical evidence. You don't realize how many years people are on death row, they are more likely to die at the hands of another inmate, than that of justice. Silence falls on the lips of the victims, and yet the killers are allowed to speak their peace before they die, what about those victims they killed, they weren't able to say good bye mom, dad, to their sons and daughters, friends and family... but yet we grant these fokes their last bidding attempt to say "what I did was ok, you can't erase it, but you can forgive me".

    March 10, 2009 at 6:08 pm |
  17. Gilbert Martinez

    Think of Mexico when you oppose the death penalty for convicted murderers. There is a nation that is on the verge of complete collapse. How did things get so horrible in Mexico? They were told by the media and their left leaning leaders that it was wrong to have the death penalty. Mexicans were told that casual use of illegal substance was a solution to the drug problem. They even gave up their guns to the Mexican Government for the sake of safety. Now the only ones with guns are the drug gangs and the corrupt beyond belief Mexican Government. They people sit in fear, while smoking their legal stash of pot, waiting to be murdered by either the armed to the teeth drug gangs or their own corrupt police forces/army.

    March 10, 2009 at 6:02 pm |
  18. Trisha

    Hacking people to death, murdering a 3 year old, drug related killings, home invasion death and murdering a clerk in a store. None of these crimes of passion, none are self defense. I wish I lived in a country that considered those crimes hienous enough to use capital punishment.

    March 10, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  19. Ben

    I can feel the anguish they are suffering at the telling of their last words, somewhat distant is their plea. Seems they are speaking outside of themselves, reflecting on what could have been and knowing that the blanket of their folly will soon cover over them, as they prepare in wait for the thereafter to consume them.

    March 10, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  20. rebecca

    Like we are supposed to care about the last words of a dead man walking ! Murders instead of giving them there last words they should cut out there tung bastards !!!

    March 10, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  21. Tiffany

    In God's eyes all sin is the same. It is very hard for people to understand that lying is the same as murder, lust is the same as rape. That is what makes Forgiveness about God and His Grace. We do not deserve it, it is through His grace and the sacrifice of Jesus that we are even able to come and ask for forgiveness. Read your Bible...talk to a Pastor, they will do their best to explain it to you.

    March 10, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  22. Brian

    Listen to you people. What do you know about anything? You sit there on your little computers in your quiet rooms and offices. You don't commit crimes, so fine, you deserve to live. But stop and take a moment to actually consider what it would be like to be executed by the United States. You can talk about God, Jesus or Buddah, but in the end, darkness is all that falls. You all talk as if any of you matter. You are so blind to the many factors that go into each one of these prisoner's life. Years of hardship followed by your country stopping your life. First paralysis, then excruciating pain, then darkness. Yes, you all know so much. So you sit. And blog. And wait for yours.

    March 10, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  23. Terence

    "What makes these people think they’ll go to heaven and meet Jesus?"

    Because Jesus, unlike most humans, will forgive. Humans aren't so good on the forgiveness bit. I also usually find that those who are against the death penalty are those who haven't been directly affected by any such crime. Let's see how any of you would react if soemone raped and murdered your 17-year old daughter.

    March 10, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  24. pthomas

    Well I think the basic tenant of Christianity is that if you ask for forgiveness than you will receive forgiveness.

    As for the death penalty-I feel there are too many flaws within our legal system to have the death penalty.

    March 10, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  25. Ronald

    You can do whatever you want as long as you accept Jesus as your lord and savior before you die... or are executed for a crime you have been convicted of.

    March 10, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  26. Don

    One guy's last words were, "How about them Cowboys?"

    Now THATS a sports fan....

    March 10, 2009 at 3:48 pm |
  27. DH - Md

    This is one of the saddest articles I've ever read. I can't imaging what it must feel like knowing you will die in moments. Their victims surely knew the feeling...what were their last words, I wonder. Words of horror come to mind.

    March 10, 2009 at 3:47 pm |
  28. Linda

    Dearest Susan, I think the better question is, where would Christianity be without the resurrection?

    March 10, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  29. brandi

    Just have to add, Christ didn't kill anyone, or hurt anyone, and so it is insulting to compair the killing of him with the killing of someone who say raped and murdered many. It is completely different, and he was at a time when even theives were executed. To compair someone dying for their beliefs and good actions, and those others, is just too weird.

    March 10, 2009 at 3:45 pm |
  30. Pagan2

    They didn't give the people they hurt a chance to say anything in most cases... so why bother giving a killer a chance to say anything. Most of them shouldn't even of been in Jail for as long as they had.. it should be if they are 100% guilty without a doubt, they get the death penalty, and they carry it out right that same day that they are convicted. why waste time? Dont give them anymore time to live... they sure didn't give their victims a chance to live did they? If you have ever been the sister or a brother/mother/father of one of these animals victims, I'm sure you understand what I am saying here all too well.

    March 10, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  31. Ronald

    You can do whatever you want as long as you accept Jesus before you die... or are executed for murder.

    March 10, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  32. brandi

    I think it shows a state of mind for some. Not all say sorry, and I think all are planned long before. Some are meant to flat out hurt those involved, some are probably still playing those watching, but some are likely sorry. You can't really tell from reading who's actually sorry, or even for those in person what is true. Sarcasim and purposeful, hurtful I think say they're not at all a better person and reaffirm why their is a death penalty. I think their insistance about Jesus would have to bother those hurt by these crimes. I have talked to some religions who say if they were saved, they will be with Jesus. I hope the people hurt by their crimes find forgiveness but not at all for the person who did the crime, for the victims own peace.

    March 10, 2009 at 3:41 pm |
  33. hilbilly

    Bring back Ole Sparky!!!

    March 10, 2009 at 3:34 pm |
  34. Susan

    The death penalty...it was good enough for Jesus. If all executed people went to hell, I guess that's where Jesus is. You know, where would Christianity be without the death penalty, anyway?

    March 10, 2009 at 3:18 pm |
  35. Amy

    I agree with you Robert! I used to believe in the death penalty until I saw how many people there were that were found innocent after spending years in jail. And to think that they to could have received the death penalty as well.

    March 10, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  36. GF, Los Angeles

    What makes these people think they'll go to heaven and meet Jesus? If that's the case, I'd rather go to hell (that is if I believed in one).

    March 10, 2009 at 2:33 pm |
  37. robert honeycutt

    you know, i think after reading the last words of people on death row, ive come to the conculsion that everyone says thier sorry....... so how are you supposed to know whos lieying and whos telling the truth. the court system doesnt come out with the truth, know one will ever know if thier really " guilty " it kills me to know that i could be at the wrong place at the wrong time, and be convicted for a crime i never commited, it really really flusters me.

    March 10, 2009 at 2:14 pm |
  38. Cindy

    I could care less what any of them have to say. They didn't give their victims a chance to speak so why should they get it!? I say give them the injection or the juice of the chair and get it over with!


    March 10, 2009 at 1:42 pm |