Last week, reports of executions — one postponed in Ohio, one carried out in Texas — punctuated the news more frequently than usual. These reports prompted me to reflect on an archive of executed prisoners’ last words I found on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Web site while researching parole terms. The archive’s earliest entry dates from Dec. 7, 1982; the most recent was added after Stephen Moody was executed on Wednesday by lethal injection for murder.
What follows are quotations taken from inmates’ last statements in Texas. The statements, delivered before family members, relatives of victims, friends and the press, are compiled out of chronological order.
— CLAIRE CAMERON, the author of “The Line Painter”
Nothing I can say can change the past.
I done lost my voice.
I would like to say goodbye.
My heart goes is going ba bump ba bump ba bump.
Is the mike on?
I don’t have anything to say. I am just sorry about what I did.
I am nervous and it is hard to put my thoughts together. Sometimes you don’t know what to say.
Man, there is a lot of people there.
I have come here today to die, not make speeches.
Where’s Mr. Marino’s mother? Did you get my letter?
I want to ask if it is in your heart to forgive me. You don’t have to.
I wish I could die more than once to tell you how sorry I am.
Could you please tell that lady right there — can I see her? She is not looking at me — I want you to understand something, hold no animosity toward me. I want you to understand. Please forgive me.
I don’t think the world will be a better or safer place without me.
I am sorry.
I want to tell my mom that I love her.
I caused her so much pain and my family and stuff. I hurt for the fact that they are going to be hurting.
I am taking it like a man.
Kick the tires and light the fire. I am going home.
They may execute me but they can’t punish me because they can’t execute an innocent man.
I couldn’t do a life sentence.
I said I was going to tell a joke. Death has set me free. That’s the biggest joke.
To my sweet Claudia, I love you.
Cathy, you know I never meant to hurt you.
I love you, Irene.
Let my son know I love him.
Tell everyone I got full on chicken and pork chops.
I appreciate the hospitality that you guys have shown me and the respect, and the last meal was really good.
The reason it took them so long is because they couldn’t find a vein. You know how I hate needles. ... Tell the guys on Death Row that I’m not wearing a diaper.
Lord, I lift your name on high.
From Allah we came and to Allah we shall return.
For everybody incarcerated, keep your heads up.
Death row is full of isolated hearts and suppressed minds.
Mistakes are made, but with God all things are possible.
I am responsible for them losing their mother, their father and their grandmother. I never meant for them to be taken. I am sorry for what I did.
I can’t take it back.
Lord Jesus forgive of my sins. Please forgive me for the sins that I can remember.
All my life I have been locked up.
Give me my rights. Give me my rights. Give me my rights. Give me my life back.
I am tired.
I deserve this.
A life for a life.
It’s my hour. It’s my hour.
I’m ready, Warden.
Claire Cameron, the author of The Line Painter.