10 Notorious Last Words from Prisoners on Death Row
1“Let's do it!” (The Inspiration for Nike's Famous Slogan)
When the time finally came for Gary to die before the firing squad, he was brought to an old cannery behind the prison and strapped to a chair. It was there where Gary issued his famous last words, “Let's do it!” Immediately after his death, Gary's corneas were donated to awaiting recipients, per his request.
Gary became somewhat of a cultural icon. The Police song Bring on the Night was inspired by Gary's possible thoughts on the night before his death. In his performance in the film The Postman Always Rings Twice, Jack Nicholson was inspired by Gary. He has been mentioned in Saturday Night Live, Seinfeld, and Roseanne. Most notably, famed advertising executive Dan Wieden credits Gary's parting words as the inspiration for Nike's tagline, “Just Do It.”
2“French Fries.” (Spoken by Mr. French Before Being Electrocuted)
French has been credited with these famous last words before his death by electric chair: "How's this for a headline? 'French Fries.'"
This was the last pre-Furman execution by electric chair before John Spenkelink was electrocuted in 1979 in Florida.
3 "Forgive me sir, I meant not to do it." (Spoken by Marie Antoinette to Her Executioner After She Stepped on His Foot)
However, it was a disappointment for the thousands of people who were gathered to watch the scene. They'd wanted to see the 38-year-old woman quake in fear and cower penitently. A well-known 18th-century journalist and revolutionary, Jacques Hébert, wrote in the newspaper Le Père Duchesne that she was "bold and impudent to the very end." It is claimed that she maintained her composure to the very end.
Her last words were, "Forgive me sir, I meant not to do it," spoken to Henri Sanson the executioner, whose foot she had accidentally stepped on after climbing the scaffold.
4“Soldiers, Fire!” (Spoken by Michael Ney After Wishing to Command His Own Firing Squad)
Following the defeat at Waterloo, Ney was hunted down and arrested. After being taken into custody, he was tried for treason and found guilty. He was sentenced to be executed by firing squad near the Luxembourg Garden on December 7, 1815. When he was offered one last wish, Ney decided on one that was very unusual and kick ass. He asked to command his own firing squad.
During his execution, Ney refused to wear a blindfold and insisted upon giving the order to fire himself. His final words were reportedly delivered as follows:
"Soldiers, when I give the command to fire, fire straight at my heart. Wait for the order. It will be my last to you. I protest against my condemnation. I have fought a hundred battles for France, and not one against her... Soldiers Fire!”
5“Where's my stunt double when you need one?” (Spoken by Vincent Gutierrez Before Being Executed by Lethal Injection)
Gutierrez, who was believed to have suffered from bipolar disorder, said good bye with a pinch of humor. His last words were,
I do, I would like to tell everybody that I'm sorry about the situation that happened. My bad - everybody is here because of what happened. I'd like to thank everybody that's been here through the years. The little kids overseas - they really changed me. Sister Doris, mom, brothers, sister, dad; I love ya'll. My brother... where's my stunt double when you need one? My Lord is my life and savior, nothing shall I fear.
Gutierrez was the 1068th murderer executed in the U.S. since 1976.
6“Well, gentlemen, you are about to see a baked Appel.” (Spoken by G. Appel Before Being Executed by Electric Chair)
7“I did not get my Spaghetti-O's, I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this.” (An Inmate Complaining about His Last Meal)
Thomas J. Grasso was executed in 1995 for using Christmas tree lights to strangle an 85-year-old woman. His bizarre last meal request was for two dozen steamed mussels, two dozen steamed clams (flavored by a wedge of lemon), a double cheeseburger from Burger King, a half-dozen barbecued spare ribs, two strawberry milkshakes, one-half of a pumpkin pie with whipped cream, diced strawberries, and a 16-ounce can of SpaghettiOs with meatballs, served at room temperature.
Unfortunately for him, the length or complexity of his list seemed to confuse kitchen staff who made one crucial mistake. Grasso's last words were, "I did not get my SpaghettiOs, I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this.
8"I think that governor's phone is broke. He hadn't called yet." (A Convicted Murderer Whose Execution had been Postponed Three Times)
Shortly before the lethal drugs began flowing, Matthews looked at his family members and said with a smile, "I think that governor's phone is broke. He hadn't called yet."
His execution had been postponed three times. Former Gov. Brad Henry twice granted stays to give defense attorneys time to investigate Matthews' claims of innocence. A third stay was granted after defense attorneys objected to plans to substitute a drug in his lethal injection.
9"I'd rather be fishing." (Spoken by Jimmy Glass Before Being Put to Death)
Glass's last words were, "I'd rather be fishing." Of course he would.
He died when the electric chair was just one vote short of being declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
10“Hurry it up, you Hoosier bastard! I could hang a dozen men while you're screwing around!” (Spoken by Carl Panzram, a Famous Serial Killer in the 30's)
Panzram was sentenced to death. He refused to appeal, even threatening to kill members of human rights groups who attempted to appeal on his behalf.
When they put the noose around his neck, he allegedly spat in his executioner's face and declared, "I wish the entire human race had one neck, and I had my hands around it!" When asked by the executioner if he had any last words, Panzram barked, "Yes, hurry it up, you Hoosier bastard! I could hang a dozen men while you're screwing around!"
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