Some praised Allah; a cadre invoked Christ. A trio cheered sports teams, while still others stared death squarely in the eye and made a full accounting of that which had brought them to the proceedings grimly at hand.
“A lot of people say I didn’t commit those murders . . . I really did,” said Elroy Chester, moments before he became the 499th person put to death in Texas since 1982. “That’s my statement, Warden, you can go ahead.”
This week, the Lone Star State executed its 500th inmate -- one Kimberly McCarthy - since the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976. And regardless of the content -- and through it all -- as The New York Times notes, authorities have painstakingly recorded the final statements of every single one of those who were so-condemned.
It’s there that one can find all of their mournful admissions, railings against the system, final instructions, and prayers for hope in the Great Beyond that immediately preceded the court-ordered reckoning they would momentarily suffer for their crimes.
Ronnie Threadgill, convicted of a fatal carjacking, used the opportunity to say, “all the guys back on the row, keep your heads up, keep up the fight,” before telling the warden, “I am ready. Let’s go,” while Carl Blue, who once set on fire an ex-girlfriend, opined, “I did wrong, now I am paying the ultimate price, even though it’s a crooked way…Hang on. Cowboy up. I’m fixing to ride.”
Carroll Parr, who murdered a man for small change, simply said, “To all my partners, tell them I said, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, ‘I’ll be back,’” while David Ray Harris, reportedly executed in 2004 for killing a man during an attempted kidnapping, sounded off by quoting Todd Beamer, one of the United Flight 93 passengers killed on Sept. 11, 2001, saying, “Sir, in honor of a true American hero, ‘Let’s roll.”