Death row is the one place you wouldn’t wish for your worst enemy. Those days before execution are long and hard as the person thinks and relives their death over and over before it actually happens. The saddest stories come from death row inmates who are also forced to endure solitary confinement before their execution. The last thing the inmate on death row is asked to do is to choose their last meal and whom they would like to come and witness them being killed. While the choice may sound like a relief, it is actually torture, but many choose a final meal anyway. Some actually chose last meals that were very interesting.
Lawrence Russell Brewer
Lawrence Russell Brewer found a way of making everyone angry, including all people that were ever executed in Texas after him. Lawrence Brewer was executed in 2011 for the racially motivated murder of James Byrd Jr in 1998. They picked up Byrd while he was jogging, offering to give him a lift only to tie him to the back of their truck and drag him to death on a dirt road. His crime caused a national uproar and protests all over the state.
The state still gave him the opportunity he never gave his victim; The chance to choose his last meal. He wrote a long list for his last supper. He asked for a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, a meat lovers’ pizza special, a pound of barbecue, three fajitas, and a pint of homemade Blue Bell Vanilla ice cream. The long list was delivered at the cost of the state, but Brewer refused to eat, saying he wasn’t hungry. His actions angered the Texas State Senate, which immediately abolished last meal requests for death row inmates.
Ronnie Lee Gardner
Gardner is one of the most violent death row inmates in US history and only the third man in the US to be executed by the firing squad. He actually chose that method himself back when Utah hadn’t made lethal injection the standard method of execution. His fellow inmates said he chose to be shot, just so he could make a mess for someone to clean up. Gardner was sent to prison for shooting a bartender in a robbery, but in 1985, he tried to escape killing his lawyer Michael Burdell in the process resulting in his being sentenced to die.
His family and lawyers put up a strong fight and even had Gardner appeal to the citizens through an interview with a CNN reporter, but the governor wouldn’t have any of his pleas. For his last meal, Gardener requested steak, lobster tail, an apple pie, and vanilla ice cream, and a 7UP. He, however, also requested to watch the entire Lord Of The Rings Trilogy and to fast for the last 48 hours before his execution. His last request was that no member of his family come to watch him getting shot. They were all granted.
Victor Feguer requested a single olive for his last meal, only that it be served with the pit still inside. He was the last man to be executed in Iowa and also the last in the US before the supreme court stopped executions in 1972. He had been convicted for the murder of Dr Edward Bartels in 1960, but Feguer denied the charge, saying he had actually killed the man that killed the doctor. He said he dumped the actual killer’s body in the Mississippi, but the FBI never found the body, which is why president Kennedy refused to save him from execution. Those days, federal executions were done by hanging, and after being hanged, the olive was discovered in his pocket and was buried alongside him.
Odell Barnes Jr
Odell Barnes’ last meal request was so ridiculous; even the UN hasn’t been able to deliver it. He was sentenced to death for killing 44-year-old Hellen Bass in November 1989 at her house in Wichita Falls. He claimed innocence right until the time of his execution. Human rights groups also fought for him, saying the prosecution had no physical evidence of Barnes crime and that his state-appointed lawyer didn’t even bother to cross-examine the presented witnesses.
His execution attracted global attention as more people seemed to agree that he didn’t deserve to die after all, but Texas decided to execute him anyway. He was executed on March 1, 2000, after requesting justice, equality, and world peace as his last meal. The prison was in no position to bring that, so they served him the regular prison food.
Thomas Grasso is the criminal that cost Mario Cuomo (Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s dad) The gubernatorial election in 1995. In December 1990, Grasso had killed an 81-year-old woman in Oklahoma by strangling her with her own Christmas lights. He then fled to New York, where he was arrested for killing another elderly woman, but this time, he was arrested and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Oklahoma, in turn, sentenced him to die, but governor Cuomo who was against the death penalty opposed his transfer to Oklahoma and insisted that Grasso serve his 20 years in New York first.
Then came Gov. Pataki, who cashed in on the public demand for the serial killer to be executed and promised to deliver Grasso to Oklahoma if he became governor and deliver, he did, in 1995 when he won the elections. Before dying, Grasso requested two dozen steamed mussels, a Burger King Double Cheeseburger, a strawberry milkshake, a pumpkin pie, and a mango. His special order was a can of Franco-American SpaghettiOs, of course with meatballs, served at room temperature. Now, the state brought him spaghetti and not SpaghettiOs, and that made Grasso really angry. In his last statement, he complained that the state messed his last meal by bringing him spaghetti instead of SpaghettiOs. Not as unfair as his crimes, though, right?
Davis woods went down as one of the most repentant murderers in history. In his last words, Woods apologized for the umpteenth time to the family of Juan Placencia and the whole world and said he was at peace with his sentence. He was sentenced to death for killing Juan in 1984. He stabbed him with a knife when he, alongside two friends, went to rob him. Woods was actually turned in to the authorities by his own mother, who suspected him of the crime when she visited the crime scene. For his last meal, Woods requested to have a birthday cake and a pizza which he ate with his family, including his mother. It was truly the last birthday for him.
When Robert Conklin killed his boyfriend, attorney George Crooks, he was on parole after going to prison for burglary and armed robbery. It happened in March 1984 when the two were smoking pot. They allegedly got into a fight, and Conklin killed Crooks with a screwdriver. He then attempted to clean up the scene by dissecting the body and dumping the bloody clothes and body parts in garbage bags in the street. He was caught with the victim’s internal organs in his kitchen garbage bin, a blood-soaked mattress, and a book with guidelines on how to dissect a human body.
His guilt was out of the question, so he chose a feast for his last meal. He asked for: Corn on the cob, iced tea, apple pie, cantaloupe, vanilla bean ice cream, goat cheese, French bread with butter, fillet mignon wrapped with bacon, shrimp sautéed in garlic butter with lemon, sour cream, chives with real bacon bits, asparagus with hollandaise sauce, baked potatoes with butter and sour cream. The order was long, covering a whole two plates. He ate the entire meal before his execution.
This is one of the most controversial cases of capital punishment in US history, where the real murderer was sentenced to life in prison while the accomplice was killed. Steve Woods and his friend Marcus Rhodes were both present at the murder of Roth Whitehead and Bethena Brosz in 2001. Marcus did the killing, but Woods didn’t do anything to stop him. Marcus later confessed his crime and got a plea that gave him a life sentence. Woods was instead sentenced to death under a Texas law that allows the jury to convict a suspect to death if it is believed that they didn’t show concern for life while witnessing a murder.
With all appeals spent, Woods decided he could as well have a feast on his last day on Earth. His last supper included fried chicken breasts, hamburgers with bacon on French toast, chicken fried steak, garlic breadsticks, root beer, sweet tea, a large pizza with bacon, pepperoni, and hamburger, and a sausage and mountain dew to wash them down. He also said he never killed anybody right before his execution by lethal injection.
Philip Workman’s execution in 2007 went down as the most emotional one in US history thanks to his moving last meal request. He was arrested in 1981 after robbing Wendy’s in Memphis. During his arrest, Workman got into a shootout with the police, and one officer was killed, changing his crime from a robber to a cop killer. Workman was, however, a cocaine addict at the time and confessed that he was on drugs at the time, and he didn’t intend to kill the officer.
Forensic evidence also confirmed that the officer might have been shot by his colleague and not Workman, but his appeals were rejected. For his last meal, Workman declined to have a meal for himself and asked the prison officials to instead deliver a pizza to a homeless man. His request was denied by the prison leading to a public outcry that saw people all over America buy pizzas for homeless shelters in protest.
James Edward Smith became famous in 1983 after getting arrested by civilians for the murder of Larry Rohus, the manager of an insurance company at the International Trade Center in Houston. He was robbing the cashier’s office, and Rohus had given him the money without resisting, but Smith shot him through the heart anyway. He didn’t deny the charges; he instead embraced his sentence and said he was not afraid of dying.
Before his execution on June 26, 1990, Smith, who was also a voodoo priest, requested a pile of dust for his last meal. It is believed that he wanted to perform a ritual with the dust. Dust, however, isn’t part of the prison last meal menu, so he got to enjoy the usual prison snack and a cup of yoghurt before his execution. He swore that his spirit would haunt the prison for 300 years.