Most Compelling Last Statements by Texas Death Row Inmates
Since December 1982, over 540 men and women have been put to death in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice System (TDCJ). Just before the lethal mixture of drugs are administered to an inmate, he/she is given an opportunity to make a last statement.
Several days ago, I found a (TDCJ) site online which lists executed offenders and gives a capsule of their offenses. Along with that, their last statements are also shown.
I have always been intrigued by the final words of someone about to be put to death. This is not because I have some sort of fascination of the macabre, but, it has always seemed to me that when a person is about to meet their maker within minutes, honesty and contriteness should make up the major content of these final words.
I did take a look at all 543 last statements made by inmates in their final few minutes. There were a few dozen that opted to not say anything, but most everyone issued statements that ranged from a few seconds to a few minutes. And, of those, the majority accepted their guilt and asked for forgiveness from family members of the victims. Others proclaimed their innocence all the way to their death, while others issued statements that ranged from lighthearted, to politically charged, to hard to understand rants.
I compiled a list of 12 of the most compelling (at least to me) final statements by Texas Death Row inmates:
- Inmate/Crime: Karl Chamberlain sexually assaulted a woman in his apartment complex and then shot her once in the head.
- Last Statement excerpt: “…My death began on August 2, 1991 and continued when I began to see the beautiful and innocent life that I had taken. I am so terribly sorry. I wish I could die more than once to tell you how sorry I am. I have said in interviews, if you want to hurt me and choke me, that’s how terrible I felt before this crime…”
- Compelling nature: Like many other inmates, Chamberlain admits his guilt. The level of his sorrow (hurt me/choke me) is what caught my attention.
- Inmate/Crime: Leonel Herrera was convicted of killing a Los Fresnos police officer after he was pulled over for speeding.
- Last Statement: “I am innocent, innocent, innocent. 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.”
- Compelling nature: For someone to profess their innocence so strongly, just seconds before their death, made me look deeper into their conviction. It seems an open and shut case as the police officer (before he died) was able to identify the suspect.
- Inmate/Crime: Martin Vega was convicted in a murder-for-hire killing in Central Texas.
- Last Statement excerpt: “…I am innocent of this. Now all you all are seeing in the process a perfect example of ol’ freaky deaky Bill Clinton when he signed that anti-terrorism law to shorten the appeals. This is a conspiracy…”
- Compelling nature: Not only does he profess his innocence, he brings President Bill Clinton into his reasoning.
- Inmate/Crime: Jesse Hernandez was convicted of killing at 11-month-old child.
- Last Statement: “Tell my son I love him very much. God bless everybody. Continue to walk with God. Go Cowboys! Love ya’ll man. Don’t forget the T-ball. Ms. Mary, thank you for everything that you’ve done. You too, Brad, thank you. I can feel it, taste it, not bad.”
- Compelling nature: Apparently, the mixture of lethal drugs were started before the end of his statement. Not only that, he rates the taste as ‘not bad’.
- Inmate/Crime: Raymond Kinnamon was convicted of killing a man during a robbery at a Houston bar.
- Last Statement excerpt: “…if there’s anything I have left to say, it would be that I wish I had a Shakespearean vocabulary, but since I was raised in TDC, I missed out on some of my vocabulary…”
- Compelling nature: Well, at least he wanted to be well versed.
- Inmate/Crime: G.W. Green of Nacogdoches County was convicted in the murder of a Montgomery County reserve deputy sheriff.
- Last Statement: “Let’s do it, man. Lock and load. Ain’t life a [expletive deleted] ?”
- Compelling nature: Certainly not the bravado you’d expect to hear from someone about to meet his maker.
- Inmate/Crime: Charlie Livingston was convicted in the robbery-murder of a woman outside a grocery store in Houston.
- Last Statement: “You all brought me here to be executed, not to make a speech. That’s it.”
- Compelling nature: I don’t think any other inmate was more to the point. I wish politicians would go for such brevity when it comes to speeches.
- Inmate/Crime: William Davis was convicted of the robbery-murder of a Houston man.
- Last Statement excerpt: “…I hope that [by] donating my body to science that some parts of it can be used to help someone, and I just thank the Lord for all that he has done for me. That is all I have to say, Warden. Oh, I would like to say in closing, “What about those cowboys?…”
- Compelling nature: The pull and passion of the Dallas Cowboys runs deep in some.
- Inmate/Crime: Monty Delk was convicted of the shooting death and robbery of a Grapeland, Texas man.
- Last Statement: “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.”
- Compelling nature: It’s 2,587 miles from Huntsville, Texas to Barbados…in case you were wondering.
- Inmate/Crime: Douglas Roberts was convicted of the kidnapping, robbery, and murder of a San Antonio man.
- Last Statement: “Yes sir, Warden. Okay, I’ve been hanging around this popsicle stand way too long. Before I leave, I want to tell you all. When I die, bury me deep, lay two speakers at my feet, put some headphones on my head and rock and roll me when I’m dead. I’ll see you in Heaven someday. That’s all Warden.”
- Compelling nature: Popsicle stand? Bury me with headphones? There are some AC/DC titles that come to mind.
- Inmate/Crime: James Jackson was convicted of murdering his two step-daughters and their mother.
- Last Statement excerpt: “…Thank you to my family, I love you. Each and every one of you…See you on the other side. Warden, murder me. Sodom and Gomorrah which is Harris County.”
- Compelling nature: Uh….okay.
- Inmate/Crime: Douglas Feldman was convicted of murdering two men in the Dallas area, one in a possible fit of road rage, the other at random.
- Last Statement: “I hereby declare, Robert Steven Everett and Nicholas Velasquez, guilty of crimes against me, Douglas Alan Feldman. Either by fact or by proxy, I find them both guilty. I hereby sentence both of them to death, which I carried out in August 1998. As of that time, the State of Texas has been holding me illegally in confinement and by force for 15 years. I hereby protest my pending execution and demand immediate relief.
- Compelling nature: Something tells me the witnesses in the chamber thought to themselves, “Yup…he’s about to get something that’s immediate.”