It wasn’t easy reading through over 500 last statements from offenders on death row. I did everything in my power to avoid reading the descriptions of the crimes they committed – mostly because it’s disturbing, but also because I didn’t have the time. I came to realize that regardless of the crimes the offenders committed, their last statements were truly eye-opening. It made me consider what I might say on my death bed, knowing it’s the last chance to say I love you, make amends, or say something witty. The last statements of offenders ended up being a mix of emotional, apologetic, vindictive, crazy and in some cases just plain eerie.
The post is split up into 3 sections.
- Read last statements & popular topics
- Learn how much offenders had to say
- Read other interesting death row facts, charts, and info
- View data/graphs in a single slideshow
Last Statements & Topics from Death Row
The chart below shows topics death row offenders talked about in their last statements. The results below are not mutually exclusive, meaning their last statement could have carried both an “I love you” message and a plea of innocence. Also, the data includes executions in Texas from 1982-2013. If you’re interested, the source of the data can be found here.
1. 8% take the opportunity to proclaim their innocence
Quotes of innocence from offenders
“I want the world to know that I’m innocent and that I’ve found peace. Let’s ride.”
“Statement to what. State What. I am not guilty of the charge of capital murder. Steal me and my family’s money. My truth will always be my truth. There is no kin and no friend; no fear what you do to me. No kin to you undertaker. Murderer. [Portion of statement omitted due to profanity] Get my money. Give me my rights. Give me my rights. Give me my rights. Give me my life back.”
“Yeah. The only statement I want to make is that I am an innocent man – convicted of a crime I did not commit. I have been persecuted for 12 years for something I did not do. From God’s dust I came and to dust I will return – so the earth shall become my throne. I gotta go, road dog. I love you Gabby.” [Remaining portion of statement omitted due to profanity.]
“I am innocent, innocent, innocent. Make no mistake about this; I owe society nothing. Continue the struggle for human rights, helping those who are innocent, especially Mr. Graham. I am an innocent man, and something very wrong is taking place tonight. May God bless you all. I am ready.”
“I want the victim’s family to know that I didn’t commit this crime. I didn’t kill your loved one. Sharon Wilson, y’all convicted an innocent man and you know it. There are some lawyers hired that is gonna prove that, and I hope you can live with it. To my family and loved ones, I love you. Thank you for supporting me. Y’all stay strong. Warden, take me home.”
“I’m an innocent man. I did not kill anyone. Ya’ll are killing an innocent man. My left arm is killing me. It hurts bad.”
2. Just under 50% mention god or carry religious associations
Religious quotes from offenders
“Mama Isabel told me to tell you hello. Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee; Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty! God in three Persons, blessed Trinity. Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty. All Thy works shall praise Thy name, in earth, and sky, and sea; Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty! God in three Persons, blessed Trinity. Oh, our Father who art in heaven, holy, holy, holy be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our sin as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Now, Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit. Amen.”
“God forgive them, God forgive them for they know not what they do. After all these years my people are still lost in hatred and anger. Give them peace God for people seeking revenge towards me. I love you guys, I love you guys. God give them peace. I love you Chiquita. Peace, Freedom, I’m ready.”
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters, He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me, in the presence of mine enemies. he anointeth my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever. Amen. Amen.”
3. 35% offer an apologies for the crimes they committed
Apologetic quotes from offenders
“I am sorry my actions caused pain. I hope this brings closure to what you seek. Don’t ever hate them for what they do. Never harbor hate. I love you. Alright Warden.”
“Well, I don’t have anything to say. I am just sorry about what I did to Mr. Peters. That’s all.”
“I’m sorry, I wish I could bring them back. I’m done, let’s do it.”
“I want to apologize to you, and I am sorry. I have made a lot of mistakes in my life. The things I did changed so many lives. I can’t take it back, it was an atrocity. I am sorry. I beg your forgiveness, I know I am not worthy of it. I love you Mom and Dad, and all my family. Thank you for everything. Jesus, thank you for your love and saving grace. Thank you for shedding your blood on Calvary for me. Thank you Jesus for the love you have shown me.”
4. But, most people use the opportunity to give a message to their family or tell someone they love them.
Loving quotes from offenders
“Goodbye to my family; I love all of you, I’m sorry for the victim’s family. I wish I could make it up to them. I want those out there to keep fighting the death penalty.”
“I love all of you all. Thank you for caring so much about me. Keep the faith. I am going to a better place. I hope the victim’s family will forgive me because I didn’t mean to hurt no one or kill no one.”
And Here’s How Much They Are Saying…
We know from the graph above that nearly 25% of offenders declined to make a last statement. I was surprised at how high that percentage was, which made me wonder how much people really had to say.
1. The average word count of last statements is 80 words, but people seem to be saying more over the years.
2. Asking for forgiveness and proclaiming innocence seems to take more time
And here’s some other interesting facts, charts, and info…
Executions by County
Executions By Age
Executions By Race
Age of Executed Offenders by Decade
Age Distribution of Offenders
Average Number of Years Between Crime and Execution
View all Death Row Last Statements
Interact with the charts and filters below to help sort through the full list of last statements. You can either select a year, filter by category or any combination of the two. If you’re having trouble finding something let me know in the comments.