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Word for Word: Last statements of Texas prisoners put to death

Two weeks ago, prosecutors declared innocent a Texas man named Cornelius Dupree Jr., who served 30 years in prison for rape and robbery, longer than any other DNA exoneree in Texas. Texas has freed 41 wrongly convicted inmates using DNA tests since 2001. It reminded us of the fascinating collection — — of the last statements of the 464 men and women the state has put to death since 1982. Faced with lethal injection, the convicted murderers are given the chance to address those gathered. Here, edited in some cases for length and grammar, are their last words.

Ben Montgomery, Times staff writer

G.W. Green

Let's do it, man. Lock and load. Ain't life a (expletive deleted)?

Cement mason, convicted of shooting a man during a burglary

John Fearance

I would like to say that I have no animosity toward anyone. I made a mistake 18 years ago — I lost control of my mind but I didn't mean to hurt anyone. I have no hate toward humanity. I hope he (God) will forgive me for what I done. I didn't mean to.

Auto body repairman, convicted of stabbing a man to death during a robbery

Carl Kelly

I'm an African warrior, born to breathe and born to die.

Laborer, convicted of shooting a store clerk and transient during a robbery

Joe F. Gonzales Jr.

There are people all over the world who face things worse than death on a daily basis, and in that sense I consider myself lucky.

I cannot find the words to express the sadness I feel for bringing this hurt and pain on my loved ones.

General contractor, convicted of shooting a man before a burglary

David Herman

It was horrible and inexcusable for me to take the life of your loved one and to hurt so many mentally and physically. I am here because I took a life, and killing is wrong by an individual and by the state, and I am sorry we are here but if my death gives you peace and closure then this is all worthwhile.

Stockbroker, convicted of shooting an employee of a topless club

Billy C. Gardner

I forgive all of you — hope God forgives all of you too.

Welder, convicted of shooting a cafeteria worker during a robbery

Earl Behringer

It's a good day to die. I walked in here like a man and I am leaving here like a man. I had a good life. I have known the love of a good woman, my wife. I have a good family. My grandmother is the pillar of the community. I love and cherish my friends and family. Thank you for your love. To the Hancock family, I am sorry for the pain I caused you. If my death gives you any peace, so be it. I want my friends to know it is not the way to die, but I belong to Jesus Christ. I confess my sins.

Student, convicted of shooting a young couple during a robbery

Charlie Livingston

You all brought me here to be executed, not to make a speech.

Warehouseman, convicted of shooting a woman while stealing her purse

Troy Dale Farris

I can only tell you that Clark did not die in vain. I don't mean to offend you by saying that, but what I mean by that is, through his death, he led this man to God.

I have nothing but love for you.

Electrician and truck driver, convicted of shooting a sheriff's deputy during a drug buy

George Cardova

For the pain I have caused you, I am ashamed to even look at your faces.

Laborer, convicted of beating and stabbing a young couple to death

Danny Lee Barber

Hello, Ms. Ingram, it is good to see you. I said I could talk but I don't think I am gonna be able to. I heard one of your nieces had some angry words. I didn't have anything to do with the stay. I spent the last 20 years waiting to figure out what's going on. I pray that you get over it and that's the only thing I can think to say. I'm regretful for what I done, but I'm a different person from that time. If you could get to know me over the years, you could have seen it.

Roofer, convicted of slaying a woman during a burglary

William Prince Davis

. . . Oh, I would like to say in closing, "What about those Cowboys?"

Roofer, convicted of slaying a man during a robbery

David Long

Ah, just, ah, sorry, y'all. I think (I've) tried everything I could to get in touch with y'all to express how sorry I am. I, I never was right after that incident happened. I sent a letter to somebody, you know a letter outlining what I feel about everything. But anyway I just wanted right after that (to) apologize to you. I'm real sorry for it. I was raised by the California Youth Authority. I can't really pinpoint where it started, what happened, but really believe that's just the bottom line, what happened to me was in California. I was in their reformatory schools and penitentiary, but, ah, they create monsters in there. That's it, I have nothing else to say.

TV technician, convicted of slaying three women with a hatchet. Told judge he'd do it again if not put to death.

James Beathard

I've never been more proud of anybody than I have of my daughter and my son. . . . Nobody, nobody has got a better family than me. I love you, Booger Bear. I love Doodlebug, too. Don't let them ever forget me.

Motorcycle mechanic, convicted of killing a couple and their son for pay

Robert Atworth

You've done nothing. I did this, I chose this, you've done nothing. Remember this, if all you know is hatred, if all you know is blood love, you'll never be satisfied. For everybody out there that is like that and knows nothing but negative, kiss my proud white Irish a--. I'm ready, warden, send me home.

Laborer, convicted of shooting a man during a robbery

Gary Graham

I would like to say that I did not kill Bobby Lambert. That I'm an innocent black man that is being murdered. This is a lynching that is happening in America tonight. There's overwhelming and compelling evidence of my defense that has never been heard in any court of America. What is happening here is an outrage for any civilized country to anybody anywhere.

Laborer, convicted of shooting a man during a robbery

Miguel Richardson

Let my death change society. You don't need any more killing. You don't need any minimum, maximum security, death row. You don't need the death penalty. We need more loving fathers and mothers.

Laborer, convicted of shooting a motel security guard during a robbery

Jeffrey Doughtie

For almost nine years I have thought about the death penalty, whether it is right or wrong and I don't have any answers. But I don't think the world will be a better or safer place without me. If you had wanted to punish me you would have killed me the day after, instead of killing me now. You are not hurting me now. I have had time to get ready, to tell my family goodbye, to get my life where it needed to be.

It started with a needle and it is ending with a needle.

Laborer, convicted of shooting an elderly couple during a robbery for drug money

Monty Delk

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.

Assistant restaurant manager, convicted of shooting a man during a robbery

Napoleon Beazley

The act I committed to put me here was not just heinous, it was senseless. But the person that committed that act is no longer here — I am.

I'm not going to struggle physically against any restraints. I'm not going to shout, use profanity or make idle threats. Understand though that I'm not only upset, but I'm saddened by what is happening here tonight. I'm not only saddened, but disappointed that a system that is supposed to protect and uphold what is just and right can be so much like me when I made the same shameful mistake. . . .

Tonight, we tell our children that in some instances, in some cases, killing is right.

Laborer, convicted of shooting a man during a carjacking

Douglas Roberts

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.

Machinist, convicted of stabbing a man to death

Word for Word is an occasional feature excerpting passages of interest from books, magazines, websites and other sources.

Word for Word: Last statements of Texas prisoners put to death 01/22/11 [Last modified: Sunday, January 23, 2011 1:09pm]
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