Just two weeks ago, Texas made headlines by executing its 500th prisoner in the last 30 years. While these executed convicts may be gone, they are not forgotten, thanks in part to an interesting online database that Texas maintains of its inmates sentenced to the death penalty.
Included in this database are each prisoner’s last words. Some acknowledge their guilt and show remorse, others maintain their innocence and plead their case to the last moment. Some keep it simple, others deliver long, intelligent monologues about the flawed nature of society and the system.†But overall, most are filled with words of love for God and friends and family, with only a couple devolving into profanity.
Regardless of which side of the death penalty debate you fall on, it’s difficult not to be moved by the final words of prisoners just seconds away from dying:
1. Timothy Titsworth, executed on 6/6/2006
“I know you people are here to find closure for the things that you have done or that I have done. There are no words to describe the pain and suffering that you have gone through all these years, that is something that I cannot take back from you all. I hope that Megan, if she is here present today, know that today I hope you get peace and joy. I am sorry that it has taken 14 years to get closure. If it would have brought closure or brought her back, I would have done this years ago, I promise, I promise. My family all knows the sincerity in my heart when I say these words to you. I didn’t mean to inflict the pain and suffering on your family. I pray that she is safe in Heaven. I pray that you find closure and strength. My family prays for you and everybody, if these words can ever touch your heart, I am sorry, I am truly sorry. Ya’ll take care. I love y’all.”
2. Ronald O’Bryan, executed on 3/31/1984
“What is about to transpire in a few moments is wrong! However, we as human beings do make mistakes and errors. This execution is one of those wrongs yet doesnít mean our whole system of justice is wrong. Therefore, I would forgive all who have taken part in any way in my death. Also, to anyone I have offended in any way during my 39 years, I pray and ask your forgiveness, just as I forgive anyone who offended me in any way. And I pray and ask Godís forgiveness for all of us respectively as human beings. To my loved ones, I extend my undying love. To those close to me, know in your hearts I love you one and all.”
3. Lee Taylor, executed on 6/16/2011
“I hope people understand the grave injustice by the state. There are 300 people on death row, and everyone is not a monster. Texas is carrying out a very inhumane and injustice. It’s not right to kill anybody just because I killed your people. Everyone changes, right? Life is about experience and people change.
I love you, Jennifer. Mom, I love you and all my friends that I have known over the years that have always been there for me. I am ready to teleport. I love you, baby.†I hope you don’t find satisfaction in this, watching a human being die.”
4. Daniel Corwin, executed on 12/7/1998
“I regret what happened and I want you to know that Iím sorry. I just ask and hope that sometime down the line that you can forgive me. I think in a lot of ways that without that it becomes very empty and hollow and the only thing we have is hatred and anger. I guess the only thing I have to say about the Death Penalty is that a lot of times people think of it as one sided, but itís not. Itís two sided. There pain on both sides and itís not an issue that people just sit there and voice off and say, well, this is a good thing, or this is a bad thing. But itís something thatís, you know, needs to be looked at and desired in each heart… I love you.”
5. Derrick Frazier, executed on 8/31/2006
“Debbie, my Baby, I love you; do you know I love you. You are my life. You are my wife – always stay strong. Stay strong everybody. I am innocent. I am being punished for a crime I did not commit. I have professed my innocence for nine years, and I continue to say I am innocent. Let my people know I love them. We must continue on. Do not give up the fight; do not give up hope for a better future. Because we can make it happen. I love you, I love my son, and I love my daughter. Bruno, Chuckie, Juanita, Ray – I love you, all of you. Stay strong baby. I love you forever.”
6. Ricky Green, executed on 10/8/1997
“I have been in prison 8Ĺ years and on Death Row for 7, and I have not gotten into any trouble. I feel like I am not a threat to society anymore. I feel like my punishment is over, but my friends are now being punished.†I thank the Lord for all He has done for me. I do want to tell the family that I am sorry, but killing me is not going to solve nothing.†I really do not believe that if Jesus were here tonight that he would execute me. Jesus is all about love.”
7. Michael Hall, executed on 2/5/2011
“First of all I would like to give my sincere apology to Amy’s family. We caused a lot of heartache, grief, pain and suffering, and I am sorry. I know it won’t bring her back. I would like to sing, I would like to sing for that person’s dead. The old is gone. I am not the same person that I used to be, that person is dead. It’s up to you if you would find it in your heart to forgive.
As for my family, I am sorry I let you down. I caused a lot of heartache, and I ask for your forgiveness. I am not crying for myself, I am crying for the lost and those that are dying for their sins, those that are committing suicide, those that don’t know God and have never been set free. I’ve been locked up 13 years. I am not locked up inside, all of these years I have been free. Christ has changed me. Even though I have to die for my mistake, he paid for mine by wages I could never pay. Here I am a big strong youngster, crying like a baby. I am man enough to show my emotions and I am sorry. I am sorry for everything. I wish I could take it back, but I can’t.”
8. Henry Porter, executed on 7/9/1985
“What I want people to know is that they call me a cold-blooded killer when I shot a man that shot me first. The only thing that convicted me was that I am a Mexican and that he was a police officer. People hollered for my life, and they are to have my life tonight. The people never hollered for the life of the policeman that killed a thirteen-year-old boy who was handcuffed in the back seat of a police car. The people never hollered for the life of a Houston police officer who beat up and drowned Jose Campo Torres and threw his body in the river. You call that equal justice? This is your equal justice. This is Americaís equal justice. A Mexicanís life is worth nothing. When a policeman kills someone he gets a suspended sentence or probation. When a Mexican kills a police officer this is what you get. From there you call me a cold-blooded murderer. I didnít tie anyone to a stretcher. I didnít pump any poison into anybodyís veins from behind a locked door. You call this justice? I call this and your society a bunch of cold-blooded murderers. I donít say this with any bitterness or anger. I just say this with truthfulness. I hope God forgives me for all my sins. I hope that God will be as merciful to society as he has been to me.”
9. Jessie Gutierrez, executed on 9/16/1984
“I just love everybody, and thatís it.”
10. Napoleon Beazley, executed 5/28/2002
“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. If someone tried to dispose of everyone here for participating in this killing, I’d scream a resounding, “No.” I’d tell them to give them all the gift that they would not give me…and that’s to give them all a second chance. I’m sorry that I am here. I’m sorry that you’re all here. I’m sorry that John Luttig died. And I’m sorry that it was something in me that caused all of this to happen to begin with. Tonight we tell the world that there are no second chances in the eyes of justice. Tonight, we tell our children that in some instances, in some cases, killing is rightÖ
I have to believe that there is a peaceful compromise to our ideals. I don’t mind if there are none for me, as long as there are for those who are yet to come. There are a lot of men like me on death row – good men – who fell to the same misguided emotions, but may not have recovered as I have. Give those men a chance to do what’s right. Give them a chance to undo their wrongs. A lot of them want to fix the mess they started, but don’t know how. The problem is not in that people aren’t willing to help them find out, but in the system telling them it won’t matter anyway. No one wins tonight. No one gets closure. No one walks away victorious.”