"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.
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