…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 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.


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.


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