The Jury Is Out: The Last Statements of Texas Death Row * Good title: interesting and provocative; good subtitle: more Inmates* specific and clear than main title, as subtitles should be On October 21, 2010, Larry Wooten, convicted in 1998 of robbing and brutally murdering an elderly couple, issued this last statement before his execution by lethal injection: “No sir. Warden, Since I don't have nothing to say, you can go ahead and send me to my Heavenly Father.”1* Wooten is not alone among the 464 death row * Provocative opening; notice the endnote explaining to readers how quotes from the inmates will be inmates executed in Texas between 1982 and 2010 who have expressed cited throughout the essay no remorse for their victims in their last words. 2* In fact, the * Notice the endnote here explaining the question: “why 1982?” overwhelming majority of executed offenders appear to remain unapologetic of their crimes to the very end.* In the process of * A clear, explicit, direct thesis researching this topic, a wide variety of criteria were used in an attempt to classify the last words of death row inmates as remorseful or unremorseful. Statements expressing remorse were divided between remorse for the victims or the victim’s family, and remorse of the convicts for themselves. Religious statements were dissected to ascertain whether the convict was invoking a deity to ask for forgiveness for one’s crimes or for self-serving reasons, such as admittance into heaven. References to a faulty legal system were also inspected, as some convicts’ last words were used to implicate themselves in other crimes, or to exonerate others. Final goodbyes were scrutinized for remorse and well—wishing to the victims’ families who may have been present at the execution. Finally, remorseless last statements expressing emotions such as anger, defiance, apathy, and blaming others were tallied as well.* * A wonderful roadmap to the essay and the methodologies used in the essay 1 Texas Department of Criminal Justice. “Executed Offenders.” TDCJ Death Row Information. 11 Oct 2012. Web. 20 Oct 2012. http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/stat/dr_executed_offenders.html. Wooten is execution #464. All last statements from Texas death row inmates come from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s “Executed Offenders” online database. Hereafter, all citations to these statements will be made parenthetically in the text by last name and execution number. 2 Although the United States Supreme Court, in Gregg v Georgia, reinstated the death penalty in 1977 and Texas was one of the first states to reinstitute it, the first actual execution did not occur until 1982, owing to the length of time for the first capital murder convictions to be prosecuted and for the convicted to go through the normal appeals process.