Whether you agree with capital punishment or not, the simple fact is that it still exists in some states of America. There are numerous execution methods that are used from the firing squad to the lethal injection and various other methods in between. Capital punishment is only given to those who have committed some of the most heinous crimes in American history. Over the years, thousands of inmates have been executed across multiple states and for various reasons. One of the main traditions of capital punishment is that the inmate being executed is given the opportunity to request what they would like for their last meal. This is said to be a tradition for the inmate to make peace with the executioners. Whilst most inmates will opt for their favorite food, some inmates have made some rather surprising requests. Here are the 10 craziest last meal requests from death row.
10. Timothy McVeigh
On April 19th 1995, Timothy McVeigh, a US Army veteran, along with co-conspirators Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier, carried out the deadliest act of terrorism prior to the September 11th terrorist attacks in American history when he carried out the Oklahoma City Bombing which killed 168 people including children. According to his own words, McVeigh carried out the attack in revenge for the 1992 Ruby Ridge incident, the 1993 Waco Siege and what he viewed as a federal government built on tyranny. McVeigh, Nichols and Fortier planned and constructed an ANNM explosive device which was mounted onto the back of a rented truck. This truck was driven into the front of the Alfred P Murragh Federal Building where the device detonated. McVeigh received 168 life terms for murder and was sentenced to death. He was executed in 2001 by lethal injection at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. As his last meal, he requested 2 pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream. We can’t imagine why you would choose this and not a gourmet feast, but okay.
9. Ronnie Lee Gardner
In October 1984, career criminal Ronnie Lee Gardner murdered Melvyn John Otterstrom during a robbery in Salt Lake City, Utah. Whilst he was being transported to a court hearing for the murder that he had already committed, Gardner shot attorney Michael Burdell in a failed escape attempt. After spending 25 years on death row appealing his case, he was executed by firing squad in June 2010 in Utah State Prison aged 49. His repeated appeal attempts prompted the Utah House of Representatives to limit the number of appeals allowed in capital cases. Whilst his last meal choice wasn’t exactly strange, Gardner did have an odd request to go with it. He requested lobster, steak, vanilla ice cream, and an apple pie. The odd part of his request is that he wanted to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy while enjoying his gastro feast.
8. Ricky Ray Rector
In 1989, Ricky Ray Rector murdered Arthur Criswell after he and a group of friends were refused entry to Tommy’s Old Fashioned Home-Style Restaurant in Arkansas. With a .38 calibre pistol, he also wounded two others in the vicinity. After the murder, Rector went on the run, staying in woodlands nearby and also with family members. He was convinced by family to confess, but agreed to do so only if he could confess to Officer Robert Martin who he had known since he was a child. Rather than carrying out the confession that he promised, Rector instead shot Martin inside of his mother’s home. He then went outside of the property and attempted to end his own life by shooting himself in the head. His suicide attempt went disastrously wrong and Rector had basically given himself a lobotomy and was left severely brain damaged by the incident. For his last meal, he requested steak, chicken, cherry flavor Kool-Aid and a pecan pie. When he was being escorted to the execution chamber, Rector reportedly told a guard that he was saving the pie for later, leading to questions regarding his awareness of the situation due to his brain damage.
7. Steven Michael Woods Jr
Those of you who have heard about this case will know that it was shrouded in controversy. In May 2001, Steven Michael Woods Jr was tried and convicted of the murders of drug dealer Ronald Whitehead, 21, and Bethena Brosz, 19. Throughout his time on death row, Woods protested his innocence. His co-defendant Marcus Rhodes had pleaded guilty to the crime, and evidence placed him at the scene of the crime. As for Woods, there was no physical evidence to link him to the crime and he plead not guilty. Rhodes received a life sentence and Woods was sentenced to the death penalty. The case drew lots of attention from media outlets, and there were numerous protests to attempt to halt the execution of woods. Unfortunately, these protests were unsuccessful and he was executed by lethal injection in 2011. He was still protesting his innocence in the execution chamber, stating that witnesses were about to watch a murder rather than an execution. As his last meal, Woods requested a gigantic feast of a four meat pizza, two hamburgers with bacon, fries, 12 garlic bread sticks with marinara sauce, two pounds of bacon, 4 fried chicken breasts, 2 pints of ice cream, five chicken fried steaks, 2 Pepsi’s, 2 root beers, 2 Mountain Dew’s and 2 sweet teas. There is absolutely no way that he consumed all of that.
6. Thomas J Grasso
On Christmas Eve 1990, Thomas J Grasso murdered 87 year old Hilda Johnson when he broke into her home and strangled her with the lights from around her Christmas tree. After the murder had been committed, Grasso stole a measly $8 from her purse, $4 in change from around her house and her television set which he went on to sell for $125. This sickening crime was just the beginning of the heinous crimes committed by Grasso. Just six months later, Grasso and his wife Lana moved to New York. It was here that he went on to murder 81 year old Leslie Holtz in order to steal his social security check. Grasso was executed in March 1995 at Oklahoma State Penitentiary by lethal injection, aged 32. As his last meal, he requested 2 dozen steamed clams, 2 dozen steamed mussels, a Burger King double cheeseburger, half a dozen BBQ spare ribs, half a pumpkin pie, whipped cream, diced strawberries and 2 strawberry milkshakes. The odd part of his request was a tin of SpaghettiO’s with meatballs which he demanded were served at room temperature. Instead, he was served spaghetti. Even more surprising is that he used his last words to claim his displeasure at this and said that he wanted the press to know that he did not get his SpaghettiO’s. Weird.
5. Lawrence Russell Brewer
Along with two co-defendants, Lawrence Russell Brewer committed one of the most sickening hate crimes in history when they murdered James Byrd Jr. The three white supremacists murdered Byrd in June 1998 when they tied him to the back of a pickup truck and dragged him for three miles along an asphalt road. Byrd reportedly died around half way through the journey when his arm and head was severed. This awful crime thankfully led to the federal Matthew Shephard and James Byrd Jr Hate Crimes Prevention Act being passed in 2009. Throughout the investigation, no clear motive was given for the brutal murder in Jasper, Texas. Lawrence Russell Brewer was executed by lethal injection by the State of Texas in 2011, while his co-defendant John William King remains on death row and the other co-defendant, Shawn Allen Berry, was sentenced to life imprisonment. For his last meal, Brewer requested a massive feast. He ordered the following: two chicken fried steaks, a pound of barbecue meat, a bacon double cheeseburger, a pizza, a pint of ice cream and some fudge. You are probably wondering what is strange about this. Well, rather than devouring his last ever meal, Brewer opted to leave the entire meal untouched.
4. James Edward Smith
Former voodoo priest, tarot card reader and cab driver James Edward Smith was sentenced to death for the armed robbery and consequently, the murder, of Larry Rohus, a Missouri insurance agent in 1983. Throughout the trials and hearings, Smith repeatedly protested his innocence by stating “I myself did not kill anyone” on several occasions. Who knows what that’s supposed to mean. In another instance, he claimed to have been directly involved in at least six ritualistic killings across the country. Throughout his time spent on death row, he seemed to accept his fate and was happy for it to happen. His mother, however, was not. She spent a long time trying to appeal his case saying that he was not competent to waiver appeals. He was executed in 1990 by lethal injection. His last meal request was certainly a strange one. He didn’t opt for a huge feast or luxury foods. No, instead he requested a pile of dirt so that he could perform a voodoo ritual. Um…okay. Needless to say, the pile of dirt was not delivered and instead he was given a yogurt.
3. Robert Dale Conklin
In March of 1984, Robert Dale Conklin murdered his lover George Grant Crooks. At the time of the murder, Conklin was already on parole for armed robbery. Throughout his trial, Conklin protested his innocence, claiming that he was acting in self-defence to prevent Crooks from sexually assaulting him. However, officials never accepted his version of events, especially given the brutality of the murder and the disposal of the body. Conklin even made a last minute plea for clemency, which was denied by officials. He was executed via lethal injection in 2005 for his horrific crime. Whilst in the execution chamber, Crooks declined the opportunity to make a final statement. What is surprising about his last meal is the fact that it consisted of luxury food, and a lot of it. His final meal consisted of Filet mignon wrapped with bacon, de-veined shrimp sautéed in garlic butter with lemon, baked potato with butter, sour cream, chives and real bacon bits, corn on the cob, asparagus with hollandaise sauce, French bread with butter, goat cheese, cantaloupe, apple pie, vanilla bean ice cream and iced tea.
2. Gary Carl Simmons Jr
In 1996, former grocery store butcher Gary Carl Simmons Jr, along with his former brother in law Timothy Milano shot and killed Jeffrey Wolfe, 21. According to reports, Wolfe and his girlfriend went to the home of Simmons to collect a debt. After an altercation, he shot Wolfe and disposed of his body. During this time, he is also reported to have brutally sexually assaulted Wolfe’s girlfriend. He was sentenced to death row and his co-defendant Milano was sentenced to thirty years in prison. When it comes to his last meal, the amount that Simmons requested is staggering. Included in his request was the following: A Pizza Hut Medium Super Supreme Deep Dish Pizza, with double portions of tomato sauce, mushrooms, onions, jalapeño pepper slices and pepperoni, ten packs of parmesan cheese, ten packs of Ranch dressing, one family size bag of Doritos nacho cheese chips, 8oz jalapeño nacho cheese, 4oz sliced jalapeño peppers, 2 large strawberry milkshakes, two cherry Cokes, one super-sized order of McDonald’s French fries and two pints strawberry ice cream. If the sheer amount of food that he requested wasn’t shocking enough, the fact that he is said to have consumed at least half of it is mind blowing.
1. Philip Workman
In 2007 in Tennessee, Philip Workman was executed for the murder of a police officer. The trial that surrounded the case was shrouded in controversy. Many people claimed that the bullet that killed the police officer in question simply couldn’t have come from Workman. There were protests all over the country with numerous high profile people getting involved to give their opinion on the case. People with placards pleading with the state not to execute Workman could be seen in many areas of Tennessee. When it comes to his final meal, you might be expecting that he would have done what most death row inmates do; order a gargantuan feast that they have no chance of consuming. For Philip Workman however, this was not the case. Instead of requesting a final meal for himself, Workman requested a large vegetarian pizza to be ordered and delivered to a homeless person. His gesture was actually declined. This led to hundreds of people all over Tennessee ordering the pizza in question and delivering them to homeless people all over the state.
When looking at these last requests, you have to wonder what you would want to eat if you knew that it was going to be your very last meal on earth. I honestly don’t know where I would start. I would have to have some of my favorite takeout food, for definite. I mean, if you know that you’re time on earth is going to be over in a matter of hours then you don’t really need to be worrying about your health or your waistline, so you can literally eat what you want. I don’t think there would be anything remotely healthy on my list. Most of the requests that have made it onto our list were honoured by officials and the majority of death row inmates do get their chosen meal. You have to wonder how officials can actually afford to order such insane amounts of food for those heading to the execution chamber. There are certain states that are still following this tradition and others that have stopped it after the incident with Brewer, it all depends on the state that the inmate is being executed in. Either way, the last meal requests certainly make for some interesting stories about those on death row.