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.
Each day, we are posting excerpts from the book, plus outtakes, by date of execution. See below:
This Week in 2009
“Jesus, remember the sinners.”
– John Richard Marek, convicted of murder, lethal injection, Florida. Executed August 19, 2009.
After meeting Adela Simmons and Jean Trach, who were stranded after their car malfunctioned on their way home to Miami, Marek and Raymond Wigley offered Simmons a ride to the nearest toll booth where she could call for help. Simmons was sexually assaulted and strangled to death. Marek tried to appeal his sentence, claiming that it was Wigley who killed Simmons.
This Week in 2012
“I just want to thank God for such an exuberant sendoff. Also my family for standing by me throughout all this. I appreciate them being there for me through the hardships. I’d like to ask forgiveness for all those who need it — you know who you are. I ask that my spirit be released directly into the hands of Jesus and I’m ready to go. I love you all.”
– Michael Hooper, convicted of murder, lethal injection, Oklahoma. Executed August 14, 2012.
Hooper was convicted of the murders of Cindy Jarman and her two children, Tonya and Timothy. Their relationship had been violent; Hooper threatened to kill Jarmen on many occasions. Hooper shot his victims in the head and buried them in a shallow grave in a field outside Oklahoma City. Prior to his execution, Hooper unsuccessfully sued the state, arguing that Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol was unconstitutional.
This Week in 2011
“Even though I lay on this gurney, seconds away from my death, I am at total peace. May the Lord Jesus Christ be with me. I am at peace. Hate is going on in this world and it has to stop. Hate causes a lifetime of pain. Even though I lay here I am still at peace. I am still a proud American, Texas loud, Texas proud. God bless America, God bless everyone. Let’s do this damn thing. Director Hazelwood, thank you very much. Thank you everyone. Spark, I love you, all of you. I love you Conna. It’s all good, it’s been a great honor. I feel it; I am going to sleep now. Goodnight, 1, 2 there it goes.”
– Mark Stroman, convicted of murder, lethal injection, Texas. Executed July 20, 2011.
A self-declared white supremacist, Stroman went on a shooting rampage following the 9/11 attacks, resulting in the deaths of two South Asian convenience store employees and severe injury to another. One of his victims, Rais Bhuiyan, was inspired by his religious faith to forgive his attacker and began an online petition to stay Stroman’s execution.