…to the official page for Last Words of the Executed, a book by Robert K. Elder, with a foreword by Studs Terkel.

Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, has praised the project and called it, “A dangerous book…” This is a nonpolitical work, simply asking, “If these are the most reviled, outcast members of society—why does it remain a cultural value to record what they say?”

This is the history of capital punishment in America, told from the gallows, the chair, and the gurney.

Last Words of the Executed author Robert K. Elder was on NBC’s “Last Call with Carson Daly” recently. Fast forward to 2:02 to see the exact segment.

Each day, we are posting excerpts from the book, plus outtakes, by date of execution. See below:


This Week in 2012

“I’ve carried you for years and years in my heart. I know what it’s like to lose a parent, sibling, and a child, I wish this could bring it back to you, I know it can’t. I pray that you have good lives, I’m sorry. May the Lord bless you and give you good lives. I’m sorry.”

– Donald Palmer, convicted of murder, lethal injection, Ohio. Executed September 20, 2012.

Palmer shot Charles Sponhaltz and Steven Vargo in the head along a rural road. He did not know either of his victims at the time of the murders, but expressed his regrets to the families witnessing his execution.


This Week in 2012

“I want to tell ya’ll, know that I love you. Billy, I love you, English, Hart and Eloise. Dwight, take care of Dwight. I’m going home, I’m going home. I’ll be alright, don’t worry. I love ya’ll. God bless and the Texas Rangers, Texas Rangers.”

– Robert Wayne Harris, convicted of murder, lethal injection, Texas. Executed September 20, 2012.

Harris worked at a car wash for ten months until he was fired and arrested for exposing himself to a female customer. Shortly after, he returned to the car wash and shot at his former co-workers, resulting in five deaths. After confessing to the shooting, Harris also led police to the body of Sandra Scott, who had been missing for four months. However, he was not tried for her murder.


This Week in 2011

“You’re not about to witness an execution, you are about to witness a murder. I am strapped down for something Marcus Rhodes did. I never killed anybody, ever. I love you, Mom. I love you, Tali. This is wrong. This whole thing is wrong. I can’t believe you are going to let Marcus Rhodes walk around free. Justice has let me down. Somebody completely screwed this up. I love you too, Mom. Well Warden, if you are going to murder someone, go ahead and do it. Pull the trigger. It’s coming. I can feel it coming. Goodbye.”

– Steven Woods, convicted of murder, lethal injection, Texas. Executed September 13, 2011.

Woods and his friend, Marcus Rhodes, shot and killed Ronald Whitehead and Bethena Brosz. Woods maintained his innocence and claimed that Rhodes, who was also convicted of the murders but sentenced to life in prison, was the one responsible for the killings.


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