A quick Google search can tell you what John Lennon’s last words were, but for anyone who isn’t a celebrity, last words are either forgotten or unmemorable.

In the case of death row convicts in the state of Texas, they may not all be famous but their words are being preserved forever.

Ever since the death penalty was reinstated in December 1982, last words have been recorded, and more recently they’ve been posted on a penitentiary website.

 
The last words of the executed: Texas executes more convicts than any other state, but it also records their last statements and publishes them in an online database in an act of humanity

The last words of the executed: Texas executes more convicts than any other state, but it also records their last statements and publishes them in an online database in an act of humanity

Morbid museum: An exhibit showing a knife used to kill a corrections officer on display at the Texas Prison Museums in Huntsville,Texas 07 December 2002

Morbid museum: An exhibit showing a knife used to kill a corrections officer on display at the Texas Prison Museums in Huntsville,Texas 07 December 2002

 

 

 

Texas euthanizes more convicts than any other state in the U.S., having reached their monumental 500th execution on June 26.

Denial: 'I want you to understand I speak the truth when I say I didn't kill your kids,' Texas inmate David Spence said in April 1997. 'Honestly I have not killed anyone'

Denial: ‘I want you to understand I speak the truth when I say I didn’t kill your kids,’ Texas inmate David Spence said in April 1997. ‘Honestly I have not killed anyone’

 

 

 

 

So the database containing the last statements on Texas’s Department of Criminal Justice website is a dense collection which shows the wide-range of human behavior when confronted with the last minutes of life. 

Many of the convicted used this moment to profess their innocence one last time.

‘I want you to understand I speak the truth when I say I didn’t kill your kids,’ David Spence said in April 1997. ‘Honestly I have not killed anyone.’

While others tried to atone for their crimes with an apology.

‘I’d like to apologize to the victims family,’ Cornelius Goss said of the man whose home be broke into and beat to death. ‘I don’t think I can say anything that will help, but I hope through your God, you can forgive me.’

Perhaps the most surprising are those that express complete acceptance of their punishment, like Charles Bass.

Bass was convicted of shooting and killing a police officer and was executed in 1986 at the age of 30.

‘I deserve this. Tell everyone I said goodbye,’ was all he said.

 

James Colburn issued a similar sentiment in 2003, when he was executed for luring a woman to his apartment and, when she resisted rape, stabbed her to death.

‘None of this should have happened and now that I’m dying, there is nothing left to worry about. I know it was a mistake. I have no one to blame but myself.’

 
Ready: Charles Bass, left, and James Colburn, right, issued rather calm responses in the face of the imminent executions
Ready: Charles Bass, left, and James Colburn, right, issued rather calm responses in the face of the imminent executions
 

Ready: Charles Bass, left, and James Colburn, right, issued rather calm responses in the face of the imminent executions

While robbing a jewelry store in Corpus Christi in 1983, Jermarr Arnold shot and killed 21-year-old Marie Sanchez. Before he was executed for the crime, he tried to make amends with her family. 

To the Sanchez family, he said he took responsibility for the death of their daughter.

‘I’m deeply sorry for the loss of your loved one. I am a human being also. I know how it feels, I’ve been there. I cannot explain and can’t give you answers. I can give you one thing, and I’m going to give that today.’

Others knew they were guilty, but didn’t believe the crime merited the punishment of death.

‘I have been in prison for 8 1/2 years and on Death Row for seven, and I have not gotten into any trouble. I feel like I am not a threat to society anymore. I feel like my punishment is over, but my friends are now being punished,’ Ricky Lee Green said.

 

 

 
Atonement: Cornelius Goss, left, and Jermarr Arnold, right, sought forgiveness from the crimes they committed and the families that they harmed
Atonement: Cornelius Goss, left, and Jermarr Arnold, right, sought forgiveness from the crimes they committed and the families that they harmed
 

Atonement: Cornelius Goss, left, and Jermarr Arnold, right, sought forgiveness from the crimes they committed and the families that they harmed

 

‘For almost nine years I have thought about the death penalty, whether it is right or wrong and I don’t have any answers. But I don’t think the world will be a better or safer place without me,’ Jeffrey Doughtie, executed in 2001, said.

 

Some tried to insert humor or lightheartedness into the dour occasion. Like the time when Jesse Hernandez gave a shout out to his favorite football team. 

 

 

Hernandez was being executed for hitting an 11-month boy and his sister on the head with a flashlight, after the two children were left in his care. The 11-month-old died.

‘Go Cowboys!’ was one of the last things he said before being executed in March 2012.

‘Sir, in honor of a true American hero, “Let’s roll,”‘ David Ray Harris said in reference to United 93 hero Todd Beamer.

 
Easy going: 'Go Cowboys!' was one of the last things that Jesse Hernandez, right, said before his execution
Easy going: 'Go Cowboys!' was one of the last things that Jesse Hernandez, right, said before his execution. David Ray Harris, right, was similarly lighthearted
 

Easy going: ‘Go Cowboys!’ was one of the last things that Jesse Hernandez, left, said before his execution. David Ray Harris, right, was similarly lighthearted

 

Since it’s the South, there are many utterances of ‘Love ya’ll.’ And because the occasion is frustrating, many statements have pieces omitted because of profanity.

Hoping for a life after this, many praise their personal God, whether that be Jesus, Allah, or a Sikh master.

‘It’s kind of mesmerizing to read through these,’ Robert Perkinson told theNew York Times. Patterson is a professor at the University of Hawaii: Manoa, and the author of ‘Texas Tough: The Rise of America’s Prison Empire.’

‘Most people about to be executed haven’t had a lot of success in school or life. They’re not always so skilled at articulating themselves. There are plenty of cliches, sometimes peculiar ones, like the cowboys reference. But I think many of these individuals are also striving to say something poignant, worthy of the existential occasion.’

 
Creepy exhibit: An exhibit showing inmate uniforms on display at the Texas Prison Museum in Huntsville,Texas 07 December 2002

Creepy exhibit: An exhibit showing inmate uniforms on display at the Texas Prison Museum in Huntsville,Texas 07 December 2002

 
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