Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Weird Wednesday #6 – Not So Famous Last Words

“I have come here today to die, not make speeches. Today is a good day for dying.
Est Sularus Oth Mithas (My Honor Is My Life).”

These were the last words of Delbert Teague, Jr., a death row inmate in Texas. It isn't uncommon for me to stumble upon last words in my internet wanderings, but usually they limited to famous persons or celebrities. Tonight, I found that the Texas Department ofCriminal Justice has the last words of every inmate executed since 1982. There are a total of 482 accounts from these condemned men, along with their crimes. Many of their last words are uttered as the lethal injection cocktail begins to pump through their veins.

The most common themes of these are expressions of forgiveness and claiming to be a changed man. Most said that they loved their families and said goodbye. Many addressed their victim's families and tried to offer closure.

One of the more unusual but common statements was saying that they could “taste it.” I had to look this up to see what it meant, but apparently with this cocktail, and with saline solution, once it enters your veins, a taste of rotting onions or garlic surfaces. For many, I imagine this is their last thought before fading into oblivion.

“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. “ - Jesse Hernandez

Without surprise, about one in every seven or eight entries is a desperate plea of innocence. I can't speculate on this, as desperate men will say desperate things, but you have to wonder how many might be telling the truth. So far, the only one that I have evidence as being suspicious is this, followed by the write up here.

“You're not about to witness an execution, you are about to witness a murder. I am strapped down for something Marcus Rhodes did. I never killed anybody, ever. I love you, Mom. I love you, Tali. This is wrong. This whole thing is wrong. I can't believe you are going to let Marcus Rhodes walk around free. Justice has let me down. Somebody completely screwed this up. I love you too, Mom. Well Warden, if you are going to murder someone, go ahead and do it. Pull the trigger. It's coming. I can feel it coming. Goodbye.” - Steven Woods  

Some men die harder than others as well. Many will plea for mercy, or speak highly of meeting their God. There are a select few who meet it with defiance and a desire to get it over with. Check out these:

“You all brought me here to be executed, not to make a speech. That’s it.” - Charlie Livingston

“I’m an African warrior, born to breathe, and born to die.” - Carl Kelly

“No” - Peter Cantu [editors note: Was this a troll job by the TDCJ?]

“Let’s do it, man. Lock and load. Ain’t life a [expletive deleted] ? “ - G.W. Green

I'm not going to get into death penalty advocacy one way or the other here. That is a separate issue, and one for which my opinion is still mixed on. It is hard to see men with arecord like this being allowed to live, but the chances of an honest man being put to death make the argument hard to make.

If you took the time to read through some of these, let me know what you thought in the comments section. Which ones were most intriguing to you? What are your thoughts on this in general?


  1. I have had these words in my thoughts since I read your tweet yesterday. I didn't make it through them all, but I did read many of them, and the one recurring item that stuck out the most to me, also, was the "taste it" enigma. I felt bad for latching onto that specifically, but I am someone who tastes when they flush out an IV eith saline every time. Also I will taste the medicine when they put me to sleep for surgery, I noted recently. For me the experience is unsettling. And the religious references and claims of innocence stood out, as well. It's funny, but the Woods fella you mention above also struck me as interesting. It's not the best thought in the world if you entertain that he might have been innocent. But after reading the article you linked to, just wow.

    This was a thought-provoking post, for sure.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Amber. I'm not entirely sure what makes this so interesting. Maybe it is that people of (mostly) sound minds showing what is important to them. Some of them have clearly commuted monstrous acts, but have softened in the face of death and their perceived salvation.

  2. Free love man!

    Some of the quotes actually made me laugh, but you kind of feel bad for the ones that plea. It makes me wonder why exactly the State of Texas records their final words.

    1. My bet is that it was tacked on to some bill about capitol punishment, probably at the introduction of lethal injection. Maybe it is a way to humanize them, an opposition party's attempt to make people see why they shouldn't be executed. That is just a theory though.

      I know they used to keep track of their last meals. I wonder what happened to that.

  3. The Marcus Rhodes one messes with my head a little. You'd think if he was guilty he would have given up lying about it by then. He was either innocent or he convinced himself of another truth... its hard to tell which, because I have known salesmen and I have known scumbags and most of them succeeded in being either by believing their own lies before trying to convince the rest of the world.

    1. Yeah, what is really messed up is they convicted Marcus Rhodes of the crime and gave him life in prison, but because Woods was there, and may have known something was going to happen, he was put to death. The link somewhere around the quote details what happened.

      It doesn't even sound like he was an accessory, just a kid on acid when some bad shit went down.

  4. I personally don't support legalized murders. I read your blog and remembered a Nat Geo documentary on death row inmates, their struggles to fight their cases, their fears and thoughts of that final moment, and at the end of the show we got to know all of them were eventually legally killed. It also reminded me that they recently remove the last meal request for people we were going to be executed, I believe that was in Texas and most recently there was a debate on whether to provide AC in prisons also in Texas where prisoners have been known to die from heat, I mean if temps inside a prison rises to 120°F what is there to discuss? :-) If you can't treat another human being with dignity, especially in their final moments, no matter how bad their crimes were, how different are you from them? Plus, who knows, the number of people being exonerated from murder, rape, burglary etc, some that were already on death row is just chilling-Seventeen people have been proven innocent and exonerated by DNA testing in the United States after serving time on death row. They were convicted in 11 states and served a combined 209 years in prison – including 187 years on death row – for crimes they didn’t Those are the ones that were found, how many were murdered that were innocent we'll never know. I probably will shout something obscene too if I was being killed for crime I didn't commit-something like "fuck you all, hope you and your children all die a terrible death like I'm about to, I hope you all rot in hell mothafuxxxxs!" just some drama to try make them not enjoy my death... :-D Ha ha ha.


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