Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is one of the most debated topics in all human rights arenas. When the death penalty is applied the prisoner is given a death sentence which then leads to their execution. Executions can happen in many ways: beheading, lethal injection, electric chair, and even firing squads have been used in United States history to carry out a death sentence.
This isn’t a sentence for just any criminal, getting the death penalty requires a capital crime which is also known as a capital offense. Most nations have abolished capital punishment but over 60% of the world’s population lives in countries where executions take place. China, Indonesia, India, and the United States all allow executions to this day.
Past execution styles have been exceptionally severe such as disembowelment, crucifixion, crushing, stoning, and dismemberment to name a few. In the modern world, public opinion on capital punishment varies vastly from country to country, New Zealand is one of the few countries whose mass majority is against the death penalty coming in at 55% against capital punishment.
Instead of abolishing the death penalty legislators in the United States have worked to make the styles of execution more humane. This is how lethal injection came into play, although it was only in the ‘70s that a prisoner in Utah was executed by firing squad.
Below we cover 15 criminals with crimes that will turn your stomach, how they were executed and what they said before they said goodnight to this world.
15. Jeffrey Demond Williams
This 37-year-old man was executed by lethal injection in 1997 after being convicted of murdering a police officer. He used his final statement before execution to share the following with the world:
“You clown police. You gonna stop with all that killing all these kids. You’re gonna stop killing innocent kids, murdering young kids. When I kill one or pop one, ya’ll want to kill me. God has a plan for everything. You hear? I love everyone that loves me. I ain’t got no love for anyone that don’t love me.”
It took a total of 26 minutes after the lethal injection before the prisoner was pronounced dead, moments after the injection he mumbled a few words and then snored off to sleep. Williams was being handcuffed for operating a stolen vehicle when he pulled a gun from his waist and shot Officer Brando in 1999. He used his final words to continue speaking poorly about police.
14. Jonathan Green
“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.”
These were the last words of Jonathan Green before he was executed by means of lethal injection in Texas. Green was convicted as a murderer after abducting a 12-year-old girl from her home in his very own neighborhood. He consented to a search of his residence until police showed interest in digging up the newly tilled soil in his backyard that exuded the smell of human remains.
The body of the young girl was found with use of a cadaver dog and it was seen that she had ligatures on her neck and wrists. She was pronounced murdered by strangulation, it was also shown that she was also sexually assaulted before being buried in the back yard. After police showed interest in the yard Green dug up the body and placed it behind a chair in his residence.
13. Ramon Hernandez
Hernandez’s last words before being executed by lethal injection were “Can you hear me? Did I ever tell you, you have dad’s eyes? I’ve noticed that in the last couple of days. I’m sorry for putting you through all this. Tell everyone I love them. It was good seeing the kids. I love them all; tell mom, everybody. I am very sorry for all of the pain. Tell Brenda I love her. To everybody back on the row, I know you’re going through a lot over there. Keep fighting, don’t give up everybody.”
He was arrested and convicted of rape, abduction, robbery, and murder of a 37-year-old woman that he spotted at a bus stop. Intending solely to rob her a co-assailant tried to grab her purse but instead ended up pulling her into the car. She was brought to Hernandez’s home before being brought to a motel to be brutally raped and beaten.
12. Robert Harris
Just five days before attacking those working at his local carwash Robert Harris was fired for revealing himself to two female co-workers. The firing so angered him that he brought a gun back to the carwash and shot five of those co-workers dead. His attorney argued that he was mentally impaired and therefore deserved a different form of trial, but the jury did not agree. He was sentenced to death and many believed that he died without a fair trial. His last words were full of love for those that he left behind him,
“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.”
11. Lawrence Brewer
“No, I have no final statement.”
These were the final words of racist, white nationalist Lawrence Brewer after fatally beating and dragging James Byrd Jr. from a piece of lumber on a back forest road with two accomplices. It was 1998 when Byrd, age 49, was offered a ride from 24-year-old and two of his pals, one of which was Lawrence Brewer. Instead of taking him home as promised the three men took him to a back road where he was beaten, urinated on, and chained by his ankles to their pickup truck before being dragged about 1.5 miles. An autopsy reported that he was alive for much of the dragging. The three KKK members dumped the innocent man’s body on the steps of a predominately African American church where it would be found the next day. It was a total of 81 locations where police found the remains of James Byrd Jr.
10. Carlos Granados
After authorities were alerted by the family of Katherine Jimenez that she hadn’t been heard from in a day or so they went to check on her. What they found was the young mother lying on the floor with several stab wounds to the stomach. Her 3-year-old son Anthony was stabbed to death with the same long kitchen knife that took his mother. Katherine was stabbed 30 times in the stomach before Granados turned on her baby. When asked for his last statement he said,
“Yes, Love you mom, love you pop, love you Sara, and Amanda. Um, Cathy you know I never meant to hurt you. I gave you everything and that’s what made me so angry. But I didn’t mean to hurt you. I am sorry. That’s it.” The police found him holding the kitchen knife in the house with the bodies. His special final meal was fried chicken, pizza, and a soda.
9. Vernon Sattiewhite
When he was executed Vernon Sattiewhite was 39 years old, but it’s hard to argue he didn’t deserve it.
Sattiewhite was arrested after he killed his ex-girlfriend so that another man could not have her. When Sattiewhite approached his ex, Ms. Sorrell, with a .22 caliber pistol, she was walking to nursing assistant school with her new boyfriend. Sattiewhite approached the two and the boyfriend stepped in front hoping to deter the paroled murderer from shooting at his beloved. He shot her twice in the head leaving Sorrell dead on the scene. Previously Sattiewhite had reported hearing voices and had suffered blackouts. When asked to make a final statement Sattiewhite said
“I would like to say — I just hope Ms. Fielder is happy now. I would like to thank my lawyer, Nancy, for her help on my case and for being with me now.”
8. Humberto Leal
“I am sorry for everything that I have done. I’ve hurt a lot of people. For years I have never thought that I deserved any type of forgiveness. Lord Jesus Christ in my life, I know He has forgiven me, I have accepted His forgiveness. I have accepted everything. Let this be final and be done. I take the full blame for this. I am sorry and forgive me. I am truly sorry. I ask for forgiveness. Life goes on and it surely does. I am sorry for the victim’s family for what I had did. May they forgive me. I don’t know if you believe me, life goes on. I am sure it does. To the man to the right of me, I ask for forgiveness for you. Life goes on, it surely does. I ask for forgiveness. I am truly sorry. That is all. Let’s get this show on the road. One more thing, Viva Mexico, Viva Mexico.”
Coming to terms with Jesus and forgiveness is probably a good idea in the final moments spent on death row. Leal had plenty to apologize for with his final words as he was guilty of kidnapping, rape, torture, and murder. His victim was found with the tree branch used to sodomize her still sticking out of her naked corpse.
7. Johnny Johnson
Johnson beat and raped a woman before smashing in her jaw and leaving her choke on her own blood until she died. These were his last words:
“The Polunsky dungeon should be compared with the Death Row Community as existing not living. Why do I say this, the Death Row is full of isolated hearts and suppressed minds. We are filled with love looking for affection and a way to understand. I am a Death Row resident of the Polunsky dungeon. Why does my heart ache. We want pleasure love and satisfaction. It. The walls of darkness crushed in on me. Life without meaning is life without purpose. But the solace within the Polunsky dungeon, the unforgiveness within society, the church Pastors and Christians. It is terrifying. Does anyone care or who I am. Can you feel me people. The Polunsky dungeon is what I call the pit of hopelessness. The terrifying thing is the US is the only place, country that is the only civilized country that is free that says it will stop murder and enable justice. I ask each of you to lift up your voices to demand an end to the Death Penalty. If we live, we live to the Lord. If we die we die to the Lord. Christ rose again, in Jesus name. Bye Aunt Helen, Luise, Joanna and to all the rest of yall. You may proceed Warden. (began singing)”
6. Ted Bundy
Theodore Robert Bundy was an American serial killer, rapist, kidnapper, burglar, and necrophile who assaulted and murdered numerous young girls and women in the ‘70s, possibly even before. His crimes and stalking varied, sometimes he would target young women and then get them to a more secluded place while other times he would simply sneak into a home and bludgeon someone to death for no reason while they slept. He liked to bring corpses back to the places of his former crimes and have sex with them until they were so putrid the act was impossible. He was initially incarcerated in Utah but then charged in Colorado before executing an elaborate escape.
He was recaptured in Florida in 1978 where he received three death sentences in two separate trials. When asked for his last words before dying in the electric chair in Raiford Prison in Starke, Florida he said, “I’d like you to give my love to my family and friends.”
5. Peter Kurten
This German serial killer was called “The Vampire of Dusseldorf” and the “Dusseldorf Monster”. He committed a series of sexual assaults and murders, some of which ended in him attempting to drink the blood of his victims. Kurten grew up in a household as the third oldest of 13 siblings and frequently watched his father beat and sexually assault his mother and sisters. He constantly ran away from home and claims to have killed for the first time when he was only 9-years-old. He often raped and/or murdered his victims aside from a mechanic whom he stabbed in the stomach 20 times. His last words before being beheaded were
“Tell me. After my head has been chopped off, will I still be able to hear, at least for a moment, the sound of my own blood gushing from the stump of my neck? That would be a pleasure to end all pleasures.”
4. Robert Charles Comer
While enjoying a campsite next to Larry Pritchard in 1987, Robert Charles Comer killed him for no apparent reason. He then sexually assaulted a woman who was staying with her boyfriend at a nearby campsite near Apache Lake. He kidnapped her, tied her up, and continued to assault her before she managed to escape into the wilderness. He actually hogtied the young woman and forced her boyfriend to watch as he raped her. Police found Robert Comer with a female companion atop a remote Gila County hill, he was disheveled and reminded authorities of famed killer Charles Manson.
The killer had filed appeals which had slowed the process to lethal injection that the jury sentenced him to. After almost 15 years on death row, Comer removed his appeals in hopes of expediting the process for him to be executed. He was finally executed in 2007 and went out with the final words “GO Raiders.”
3. Aileen Wuornos
Between the years of 1989 and 1990 Aileen Wuornos killed seven men by a gunshot administered at point blank range. While working as a prostitute Wuornos claimed that each man either raped or attempted to rape her and that each homicide was committed in self-defense. The jury disagreed and Wuornos was sentenced to death six times. Aileen Wuornos remains one of the few female serial killers in the world.
In her trial, Wuornos was referred to as a psychopathic personality as well as suffering from borderline personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder.
Her last words were just as crazy as she was: “I’d just like to say I’m sailing with the rock, and I’ll be back like Independence Day, with Jesus, June 6th. Like the movie, big mother ship and all. I’ll be back.”
2. Gary Gilmore
Gary Gilmore was executed by firing squad in 1977 after years of legal speculation whether or not the death penalty was considered cruel and unusual punishment. Gilmore had problems with armed robbery and assault and was jailed multiple times before being allowed into a halfway house under stipulations to sign up for art classes at the community college. His last conditional parole was in 1976 when he was sent to live with a cousin in Provo, Utah. In two nights Gilmore robbed and murdered two separate men, despite them complying with all of his demands he killed them in cold blood. He was the first person executed by police in the United States for almost ten years. The state of Utah executed him in 1977 with full acceptance of his fate, citing that the ACLU, rabbis, and reverends that had been working to overturn his sentence were only trying to get press and never really helped him at all. His last words of “Let’s Do It” are rumored to have inspired the similar Nike tagline: “Just Do It!”
1. James French
Prior to Furman v. Georgia when the death penalty was considered “cruel and unusual punishment” James French was executed under Oklahoma’s death penalty. French was the only prisoner to be executed in the United States in 1967. Initially French was arrested for killing a motorist who had picked him up while hitchhiking, he was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. The prisoner did not want to live his entire life behind bars so he killed his cellmate in order to entice the state to give him the death penalty. This need to die is probably what made his last words so humorous while sitting in the electric chair, French’s last words as reported by a guard were “How’s this for a headline? French Fries.” James French was the last American to be executed in the electric chair until 1979 when John Spenkelink was sentenced to the chair in Florida.