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 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.
This Week in 2012
“I’ve been blessed to be loved by some good people, by some amazing people. I thank them for their support. Now, let’s get it on so these people can go home. That’s it.”
– Gary Carl Simmons, Jr., convicted of murder, lethal injection, Mississippi. Executed June 20, 2012.
Simmons and Timothy Milano owed a drug debt valued between $12,000 and $15,000. Jeffrey Wolfe and his girlfriend drove to Mississippi to collect the money, but following an argument, Milano shot Wolfe while Simmons raped his girlfriend, who later escaped from the foot locker where she was being held. Simmons used a butcher knife to dismember Wolfe’s body.
This Week in 2010
“I’m really deep down in my heart sorry it happened. I wish this would bring her back. I want you to know that I’m very sorry this ever happened. I knew it was wrong but it was alcohol, despair and temper that caused it. That’s it.”
– Gerald James Holland, convicted of murder, lethal injection, Mississippi. Executed May 20, 2010.
Holland raped, beat, and strangled Krystal King on the day before her fifteenth birthday. Her body was found shortly after with the assistance of Holland’s roommate, Jerry Douglas, who had helped him hide the body. Although Holland’s death sentence was rescinded after his trial, a jury resentenced him to death two years later.