Posted by: el1en | October 4, 2009

Last words of death row prisoners revealed for first time by Texas authorities

Last words of death row prisoners revealed for first time by Texas authorities

By Paul Thompson
Last updated at 12:22 PM on 28th September 2009

The last words of hundreds of death row inmates have been revealed for the first time.

Authorities in Texas – where more people have been executed than in any other U.S. state – have published the last statement of everyone put to death since 1982. The list also include details of the crimes that put them on death row.

Each prisoner is allowed to make a final statement before the execution process begins at Huntsville Prison.

Death chamber Texas

Death Row: The Texas death chamber in Huntsville prison, Texas. The last statements of every convict put to death there since 1982 has been published

Not surprisingly, the majority of those about to be killed by lethal injection maintain their innocence. Others show a flash of humour just moments before they are executed.

Murderer Pat Knight, 30, declared: ‘I said I was going to tell a joke. Death has set me free. That’s the biggest joke.’ 

Knight, who was executed in June 2007 after 16 years on death row, had asked well wishers to send in jokes he could tell before dying.

‘They may execute me but they can’t punish me because they can’t execute an innocent man’

He received more than 30,000 jokes, but decided against telling any of them when it was time for his last words.

The first statement on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice list is from 40-year-old Charlie Brooks at his 1982 execution.

He said: ‘I, at this very moment, have absolutely no fear of what may happen to this body. My fear is for Allah, God only, who has at this moment the only power to determine if I should live or die.’

The most recent is that of Christopher Coleman who was executed last week.

Christopher Coleman, who was executed last week
Willie Pondexter

Lethal injection: Christopher Coleman (left) was executed last week. Willie Pondexter (right) was put to death in March but maintained he was innocent

The 38-year-old, who was convicted of shooting three men in a drug deal, simply said: ‘Yes, Ain’t no way fo’ fo’, I Love all yall.’

In March this year Willie Pondexter maintained his innocence with his last breath. ‘They may execute me but they can’t punish me because they can’t execute an innocent man,’ he said. Pondexter, 35, was convicted of shooting an 85-year-old woman in the head during a burglary.

‘I want everybody to know that I hold nothing against them. I forgive them all’

‘I am innocent, innocent, innocent,’ he said. ‘Make no mistake about this: I owe society nothing. Continue the struggle for human rights, helping those who are innocent, especially Mr. Graham. I am an innocent man, and something very wrong is taking place tonight. May God bless you all. I am ready.’

Thomas Barefoot, who was killed in 1984, likened his execution to the burning of witches.

He said: ‘I hope that one day we can look back on the evil that we’re doing right now like the witches we burned at the stake. I want everybody to know that I hold nothing against them. I forgive them all.’

But Newton Anderson, who was executed in February 2007, was candid about his crime. He said: ‘I am guilty. I don’t deny that.They had good evidence. Witnesses saw me. What can I say?’ The 33-year-old shot and killed a couple during a burglary at their home in Tyler, Texas.

Patrick Knight

Joker: Mugshots of Patrick Knight, who was executed in June 2007. He had asked well-wishers to send jokes for him to tell before his death

In the same month James Jackson said: ‘See you on the other side. Warden, murder me.’ 

Texas has already executed 18 people this year and has over 300 inmates on death row.

The publication of the ‘last words’ comes just a week after the botched execution of 53-year-old Romell Broom in Ohio.

His execution was called off after staff struggled and failed to find a vein to administer the lethal combination of drugs into his body.

His execution was re-scheduled for tomorrow but his lawyers have now managed to get that date postponed. 

For the full list of statements see: www.tdcj.state.tx.us/stat/executedoffenders.htm

 

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Comments (154)

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“For the first time”? I have a book that lists last words of Texas prisoners, published several years ago!
As for comments like “there are no innocent people on death row” – does that ill-informed idiot know that many peoople have been released from death row after it was discovered that someone else committed the crime? Or that in some states, release through innocence accounts for more people leaving death row than executions? Death isn’t reversible, and that is reason enough (without all the other reasons) to abolish it.

– Nick, Adelaide, 29/9/2009 12:51

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Everyone who has died on death row deserved it. There are no innocent people.

Those that think they are some great diety are somehow worthy of forgiveness (and think their innocence spares them the death sentance) are horrible people and deserve a flogging before the chair.

but of course no one should ever die- that’s horrible

– Derek, Sutton, Great Britain, 29/9/2009 10:28

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RIchard, an eye for an eye is the most mis quoted phrase. It actually means the reverse of what you intend it to:

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

i.e. like for like retaliation is a fruitless exercise.
Not quite the stand you were pushing for I think.

– Edward, London UK, 29/9/2009 10:23

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if you read edward durnleys book a hangmans tale he also quotes last words by the condemed, the one i like is the one , pirrepoint hanged , has the hangman was about to put the hood over his head , the condemed said well cherio then ,

– olt timer, torquay uk, 29/9/2009 09:24

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Why are all these ‘religious people’ spouting passages from the bible and telling us what their God says to them and at the same time bashing unbelievers. You do not need a bible or a God to tell you that taking another human’s life is wrong. What about an eye for an eye and thou shalt not kill, isn’t that in your bible? Forgiveness is all very well, but what about the other potential victims? I used to be against the death penalty, but not anymore.

– Richard Clarke (ex-pat), Bluffton. SC. USA, 29/9/2009 05:26

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This whole thing is very depressing and I am full of pity and forgiveness for everyone who has been executed wether justified or unjustified.
May God bless them all and every one of us. We should all learn to forgive and be kind.
Let us all learn from the great Mother Teressa the virtue of kindness and love and compassion.

– Binno Sharma, New Delhi, India, 29/9/2009 05:16

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