HUNTSVILLE, Texas – A condemned prisoner planned to tell a joke Tuesday as part of his final statement before being executed for the abduction and killing of a couple who lived next door to him.
Patrick Knight has been soliciting jokes in the mail and on a Web site, sometimes receiving as many as 20 a day. He said his humor is intended to raise the spirits of other inmates.
"A little bit of levity is needed," Knight said of the mood on death row. "And it seems to be working. I just want to go out laughing. I'm not trying to disrespect anyone. I know I'm not innocent."
District Attorney James Farren, whose office prosecuted Knight at his 1993 trial, said Knight's plans were another example of his recklessness.
"It just shows he has no respect for human life, including his own," Farren said.
Knight, 39, has exhausted all appeals, and his lawyer planned no last-minute attempts to block the lethal injection.
Paul Mansur, Knight's attorney, said his client's plans were not meant to "trivialize" the lethal injection, only to ease the gloom of fellow prisoners.
"They see these people go, and these are people they know and communicate with," Mansur said. "They have a camaraderie together. So it's really just for them."
Knight was sentenced to death for the fatal shootings of Walter Werner, 58, and his wife, Mary Ann, 56. Knight lived in a trailer next door to the couple's home just outside Amarillo.
When the Werners arrived home Aug. 26, 1991, they found Knight and a friend, Robert Bradfield, waiting inside for them. The two men held the couple captive in their basement through the next day, then bound, gagged and blindfolded them. They drove the victims several miles away and shot each in the head.
At the time of the slayings, Knight said, he was immature and drunk and high on drugs. He said he does not remember much about killing the Werners, who had complained about his loud music and loud cars.
"I regret so much because they were such good people," said Knight, who grew up in Slidell, La., and was known in prison as the "Insane Cajun."
"I'm the cause of this crime, no doubt about it," he said. "It bothers me I might be capable of taking someone's life."
Bradfield, who was 19 at the time, was sentenced to life in prison.