last meal

16 last meal requests from Nevada’s death-row inmates


Convicted murderer Scott Dozier is scheduled to be executed Nov. 14, 2017, the first execution in Nevada in 11 years.  (STAYED)

He will be able to request a last meal, provided it can be prepared at Ely State Prison; no outside food can be brought in.

Below are the last meal requests of prisoners executed in the state of Nevada since July 1954.

Steak
Leroy Linden, executed July 15, 1954 for the murder of Clarence Dodd.

Salami, roquefort cheese and anchovies
Frank Pedrini, executed July 15, 1954 for the murder of Clarence Dodd.

Steak and chocolate ice cream
Earl Lewis Steward, executed Feb. 24, 1960 for the murder of Thomas Jessen.

Chicken, vegetable soup, cherry pie, cheese and coffee
Thayne Archibald, executed Aug. 21, 1961 for the murder of Albert Waters.

Filet mignon, tossed salad with Thousand Island dressing, asparagus, baked potato with sour cream and an unspecified dessert
Jesse Bishop, executed Oct. 22, 1979 for the 1977 murder of David Ballard.

Jumbo shrimp, french fries, tossed salad with French dressing, clam chowder, cookies and candy
Carroll Cole, executed Dec. 6, 1985 for the 1979 murder of Marie Cushman.

Four double bacon cheeseburgers, french fries and a large Coke
William Paul Thompson, executed June 19, 1989 for the 1984 murder of Randy Waldron.

Pepsi
Sean Patrick Flanagan, executed June 23, 1989 for the 1987 murders of James Lewandowski and Albert Duggins.

Pizza with anchovies, apple pie, chocolate ice cream, jelly doughnuts and soft drinks
Thomas E. Baal, executed June 3, 1990 for the 1988 murder of Frances Maves.

Lasagna, chicken Parmesan, salad and ice cream
Richard Allen Moran, executed March 30, 1996 for the 1984 murders of Sandra Devere, Russell Rhodes and Linda VanderVoort.

No special request — standard inmate meal
Roderick Abeyta, executed Oct. 5, 1998 for the 1989 murder of Donna Martin.

Steak, rice, corn, applesauce and a Sprite
Alvaro Calambro, executed April 5, 1999 for the 1994 murders of Peggy Crawford and Keith Christopher.

Crab salad, French bread, 4-ounce lobster tail, mango, cheesecake, vanilla ice cream and aloe juice
Sebastian Stephanous Bridges, executed April 21, 2001 for the 1997 murder of Hunter Blatchford.

Cheeseburger with onions, pickle and tomatoes; french fries; three slices of pepperoni pizza; one pint each of vanilla, chocolate and chocolate chip ice cream; apple; banana; orange; a 20-ounce Coke and a 20-ounce Pepsi
Lawrence Colwell Jr., executed March 26, 2004 for the 1994 murder of Frank Rosenstock.

Two cheeseburgers and a Coke
Terry Jess Dennis, executed Aug. 12, 2004 for the 1999 murder of Ilona Straumanis.

Fish sandwich, french fries and lemon-lime soft drink
Daryl Mack, executed April 26, 2006 for the 1988 murder of Betty Jane May.

Missouri: July 14, scheduled execution of David Zink EXECUTED 7:41 PM


Zinks last meal was a cheeseburger, french fries, cheesecake and a soft drink, official said.

In a final statement, Zink said:

“I can’t imagine the pain and anguish one experiences when they learn that someone has killed a loved one, and I offer my sincerest apology to Amanda Morton’s family and friends for my actions. I hope my execution brings them the peace and satisfaction they seek.

I also have to apologize to the second set of victims, my family and friends, that had the unfortunate circumstance of developing emotions which will now cause them pain and suffering upon my execution. I kept my promise to fight this case for their benefit, and although unsuccessful to prevent the execution, we have been successful in exposing some serious flaws that offend the basic concept of the American Justice System.

For those who remain on death row, understand that everyone is going to die. Statistically speaking, we have a much easier death than most, so I encourage you to embrace it and celebrate our true liberation before society figures it out and condemns us to life without parole and we too will die a lingering death.”

7:50 p.m.

A Missouri inmate who killed a 19-year-old woman after sexually attacking her and tying her to a cemetery tree has been executed.

Fifty-five-year-old David Zink was put to death by injection Tuesday at a state prison south of St. Louis after the U.S. Supreme Court and Gov. Jay Nixon declined to intervene.

Zink was a paroled sex offender in 2001 when he abducted Amanda Morton after hitting her car on an Interstate 44 exit ramp a mile from her home. He told investigators he feared his drunken fender-bender could violate his parole and send him back to prison.

Jurors convicted Zink in 2004 and recommended a death sentence.

Corrections Department spokesman Mike O’Connell said Zink was pronounced dead at 7:41 p.m.

———

7 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court is refusing to block the scheduled execution of a Missouri inmate who killed a 19-year-old woman in 2001 after sexually attacking her and tying her to a cemetery tree.

The nation’s high court on Tuesday declined 55-year-old David Zink’s request to intervene. His lethal injection is set for later Tuesday. Gov. Jay Nixon also denied Zink’s request for clemency.

Zink was a paroled sex offender in 2001 when he abducted Amanda Morton after hitting her car on an Interstate 44 exit ramp a mile from her home. He told investigators he feared his drunken fender-bender could violate his parole and send him back to prison.

Jurors convicted Zink in 2004 and recommended a death sentence.

———

6:50 p.m.

Missouri’s governor has cleared the way for the scheduled execution of an inmate who killed a 19-year-old woman in 2001 after sexually attacking her and tying her to a cemetery tree.

Gov. Jay Nixon on Tuesday denied 55-year-old David Zink’s request for clemency and refused to block the execution scheduled for later Tuesday at a prison south of St. Louis.

Zink was a paroled sex offender in 2001 when he abducted Amanda Morton after hitting her car on an Interstate 44 exit ramp a mile from her home. He told investigators he feared his drunken fender-bender could violate his parole and send him back to prison.

Jurors convicted Zink in 2004 and recommended a death sentence. Nixon called the acts “brutal and horrifying” and said his denial of clemency upholds the jury’s decision.

———

11:30 a.m.

A Missouri inmate’s hopes of avoiding a scheduled execution for a 2001 killing are now in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court and the governor.

A three-judge panel with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday declined without comment David Zink’s claims that the death penalty is unconstitutional.

The St. Louis-based court on Monday rejected Zink’s challenge of the drug process used in lethal injections.

The nation’s high court is still weighing Zink’s case, and Gov. Jay Nixon is reviewing Zink’s clemency request.

Zink is scheduled to be put to death at 6 p.m. Tuesday for the killing of a 19-year-old Amanda Morton.

12:01 a.m.

A Missouri inmate is hoping federal appellate courts or the state’s governor spare him from his scheduled execution for the 2001 killing of a 19-year-old woman he abducted.

Fifty-five-year-old David Zink has 11th-hour appeals with the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court, and a clemency request also was in Gov. Jay Nixon’s hands.

The Missouri Supreme Court declined to intervene Monday.

Zink was out on parole after serving 20 years in Texas on rape, abduction and escape charges when he abducted Amanda Morton after hitting her car from behind on a freeway ramp a mile from her Strafford home.

Zink later tied her to a cemetery tree in western Missouri, then snapped her neck before severing her spinal cord.

“The horror and fear 19-year-old Amanda Morton must have felt after being kidnapped by David Zink that July night is truly unimaginable,” Attorney General Chris Koster made the following statement following the execution. “David Zink callously took a young woman’s life, and it is fitting he pay by losing his own.”

Jurors in western Missouri’s St. Clair County deliberated 90 minutes in 2004 before convicting Zink and recommending a death sentence for the killing of Amanda Morton. Authorities said Zink abducted her after hitting her car from behind on an Interstate 44 exit ramp a mile from her Strafford home. Morton was driving home after visiting a friend.

Police found Morton’s Chevrolet Cavalier abandoned on the ramp with the keys in the ignition, the engine running and the headlights and hazard lights on. Her purse, credit card and medication were found inside the vehicle.

Just months before the slaying, Zink had been released from a Texas prison after serving 20 years on rape, abduction and escape charges. Fearing that his drunken fender-bender with Morton could violate his parole and send him back to prison, Zink initially abducted Morton, taking her to a motel. That site’s manager later saw a televised news report about Morton’s disappearance, recognized her as the woman who had checked in with Zink, and gave investigators Zink’s name and license plate number from motel registration.

Zink, after being arrested at his parents’ home, led authorities to Morton’s buried body in a cemetery, confessing matter-of-factly and at times laughing on videotape that he had tied her to a tree there and told her to look up. When the bewildered Morton begrudgingly glanced skyward, Zink said, he snapped her neck.

Worried that Morton might regain consciousness, Zink admitted, he used a knife to sever her spinal cord at the neck and covered her body with leaves before retrieving from his home a shovel he used to bury her.

“If I think that you’re going to pose a threat to my freedom, it is set in my mind I want to eliminate you,” Zink says in his videotaped confession.

An autopsy later showed that Morton had eight broken ribs and 50 to 100 blunt-force injuries. Morton also had been sexually assaulted, with DNA evidence linked to Zink found on her body.

Missouri has executed five men this year and 16 since November 2013. Only Texas has executed more inmates over that span

Missouri – Richard Strong Execution – June 9, 2015


June 10,2015

Missouri murderer Richard Strong was executed by lethal injection Tuesday night after authorities turned aside a last-minute plea from his daughter, who was only months old when Strong killed her mother and 2-year-old half-sister.

Strong, 47, was pronounced dead at 6:58 p.m. at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, Missouri, according to the state Department of Corrections.

He ate a last meal of fried chicken, a cheeseburger and donuts, and asked forgiveness, according to the department.

His last words were: “Jehovah-jireh, you’re my provider. Your grace is sufficient for me. Forgive me for my sin. Abba-Abba, take my soul in your hands.”

Gov. Jay Nixon focused on Strong’s victims in a statement, acknowledging “there have been many lives deeply affected by these crimes.”

Petrina Thomas, whose niece was the toddler Strong killed, witnessed the execution and said in a statement she read to reporters that her family “was so glad that it is finally over.” (Read her full statement below.)

The execution was carried out after an unsuccessful plea for clemency from his daughter, who was a baby in 2000 when Strong murdered her mother and her half-sister. Last-minute appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court and to Nixon also failed.

Strong was sentenced to death in 2003 for fatally stabbing his 23-year-old girlfriend, Eva Washington, and her daughter from a previous relationship, Zandrea Thomas, in their suburban St. Louis apartment. He left Alyshia Strong, his baby with Washington, unharmed.

Alyshia Strong, now 14, said she has forgiven her father and pleaded for clemency in the days before his execution.

“I understand that my father needs to face consequences and to pay for what he did, but I do not think it is right for me to lose my father as part of the punishment,” Alyshia Strong wrote in her clemency petition.

She wrote that she frequently visits her dad in prison, and said his advice led her to behave better in school.

“My father told me that I should stay clear of the drama at school, and stay focused on the books, not the people. I listened to my father’s advice, and I can honestly say that I had less drama in my school year than I would have if I had not listened to my father,” she wrote.

The U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 against issuing a stay that would have postponed Tuesday’s execution. Strong’s attorney, Jennifer Herndon, argued that Strong was mentally ill. She said both Strong and Washington suffered from mental illness and argued frequently, according to The Associated Press.

“He just snapped,” Herndon said. “It was just sort of a powder keg waiting to explode. It wasn’t a healthy relationship.”

Nixon declined to halt the lethal injection, saying in a statement that the fatal stabbing of the mother and daughter was “very brutal.”

Strong is the fourth person to be executed in Missouri this year, and the 16th in the U.S.

Petrina Thomas, Zandrea Thomas’ aunt, read this statement during a press briefing following the execution, according to the Department of Corrections:

On behalf of the Thomas family, we would like to thank the state of Missouri for finally providing our family with closure of the horrific death of my niece and her mom. For 14 years, we have impatiently waited for this day to come. It has been said that time heals all wounds. I do not agree; the wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens, but it is never gone. The reality is we will grieve forever. We will not get over the loss of our loved ones, and we will learn to live with it. We will heal, and we will rebuild around the loss that we have suffered. We will never be the same again. He had a chance to watch his daughter grow up and laugh and smile with her. We never got a chance to see her first day of school, graduations, or watch her go on prom. My brother will never get a chance to walk his daughter down the aisle for her wedding day. Human life has dignity at any age. Nothing can justify the shedding of innocent blood or the taking of lives. You must take 100 percent responsibility for your choices and your actions, and pay with your own life. Revelation 21:4 reads: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

We are at peace now and so glad that it is finally over. Thank you

Missouri executes William Rousan


Last meal: Bacon cheeseburger, onion rings, soft drink, and pecan pie

William Rousan’s last words were,

“My trials and transgressions have been many. But thanks be to my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, I have a new home in his heavenly kingdom.”

April 23, 2014

— Missouri executed an inmate early Wednesday who was convicted of killing a farming couple in 1993 as part of a plot to steal their cows.

William Rousan’s last words were, “My trials and transgressions have been many. But thanks be to my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, I have a new home in his heavenly kingdom.”

Before he was killed, Rousan, 57, mouthed words to his brother-in-law and a minister he had invited to his execution. As the drug was administered, he breathed deeply twice and then was still. He was declared dead at 12:10 a.m., nine minutes after the procedure started.

Prosecutors say Rousan, his teenage son, Brent Rousan, and his brother, Robert Rousan, murdered Charlie and Grace Lewis on Sept. 21, 1993 as part of a plot to steal their cows. Brent Rousan is serving life in prison without parole, and Robert Rousan served seven years in prison before being released in 2001.

The slain couple’s son and two daughters were among those who witnessed the execution, which took place only a few miles from where their parents were killed. Their son, Michael Lewis, spoke afterward.

“I draw no real satisfaction from Mr. Rousan’s incarceration or execution, for neither can replace or restore the moments lost with my parents or give my sons back the grandparents they never got to know,” he said.

Gov. Jay Nixon declined William Rousan’s clemency request Tuesday evening, clearing the way for the execution to proceed. In a statement explaining his decision, Nixon said he thought Rousan’s sentence was appropriate for his alleged role as the mastermind behind the “cold-blooded plot” that led to the couple’s slayings.

Earlier Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down Rousan’s request to delay his execution.

Efforts to spare Rousan’s life hinged an argument that has held little sway over the courts — concerns about the secrecy used to obtain the execution drug, and the possibility that a substandard drug could cause pain and suffering in the execution process.

Several states, including Missouri, now use compounded execution drugs purchased from unnamed pharmacies. Courts so far have allowed most executions to move forward. However, on Monday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court stayed the executions of two death row inmates who challenged the secrecy surrounding the process of procuring execution drugs.

Missouri has executed one death row inmate each month since November. Another Missouri inmate, Russell Bucklew, is scheduled for execution on May 21. Only Texas, with seven executions, has executed more inmates than Missouri’s four so far in 2014. Florida has also executed four inmates this year.

According to prosecutors, William Rousan masterminded the plot to kill Grace Lewis, 62, and Charles Lewis, 67, at their farm near Bonne Terre. At the time, Rousan also lived in the same area of St. Francois County, about 70 miles southwest of St. Louis.

Authorities say the three men drove by the farm, and William Rousan pointed out the cattle to steal. They parked about two miles away and hiked through the woods to the farm. They watched as the couple returned home. Charles Lewis began cutting the lawn with a riding mower while his wife spoke to the couple’s daughter on the phone.

Brent Rousan, then 16, ambushed Charles Lewis, shooting him six times. Grace Lewis told her daughter on the phone she heard gunfire and stepped outside to check on the commotion. Brent Rousan shot her several times. She managed to go back into the home, but William Rousan followed her, placed a garment bag over her head and carried her outside.

He turned to his son and said, “Finish her off.” Brent Rousan fired a single shot into the side of her head.

The men placed the bodies in a tarp and put them near a shed. Later that night, they returned, along with another Rousan brother, loaded the bodies in the Lewis’ pickup truck, and took two cows, a VCR, jewelry, a saddle and other items.

For almost exactly a year, they got away with the crime. The couple seemingly had vanished without a trace.

In September 1994 investigators received two tips that helped them solve the case: Rousan’s brother-in-law, Bruce Williams, called police to implicate Rousan in the couple’s killings and a sister of William and Robert Rousan sold a VCR to a pawn shop that had been stolen from the Lewises.

The bodies were found buried in a shallow grave covered with concrete and a pile of horse manure on the farm where William Rousan was living at the time. After a four-day manhunt, Rousan was arrested while hiding in a barn on Sept. 20, 1994. He was caught with a .22-caliber semi-automatic rifle and a knife.

Brent Rousan pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Robert Rousan cooperated with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

FLORIDA – EXECUTION PAUL HOWELL FEBRUARY 26 6:00 PM EXECTUTED 6:32 PM


february 26, 2014

Authorities say 48-year-old Paul Augustus Howell was pronounced dead at 6:32 p.m. Wednesday after a lethal injection at Florida State Prison

Howell’s last words “I want to thank the Fulford family,” Howell said. “They were pretty compassionate, and I’ll remember that.”

UPDATE  4:30pm

Howell’s last meal was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, according to a Department of Corrections spokeswoman.

The DOC also says Howell had one friend visit and met with his Catholic spiritual adviser.

He is set to be executed by lethal injection.

The man who built a bomb that killed a Florida Highway Patrol trooper is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection.

Drug trafficker Paul Howell is set to die for the February 1992 murder of Trooper Jimmy Fulford at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Florida State Prison.

Howell rented a car and paid another man to deliver a gift-wrapped box to a woman in Marianna. Along the way, Fulford pulled the man over for speeding on Interstate 10 just east of Tallahassee.

The man gave Fulford a false name and birthdate and was arrested. Howell was called about the rental car and asked if Fulford had permission to be driving it and never warned the dispatcher the bomb was in the trunk.

FLORIDA – EXECUTION JUAN CARLOS CHAVEZ , FEBRUARY 12 at 6 p.m UPDATE EXECUTED 8.17 pm


february 12, 2014

UPDATE: Juan Carlos Chavez was executed at 8:17 p.m., according to the governor’s office.

Juan Carlos Chavez had no last words in death chamber, but apparently wrote out a last statement to be distributed later

UPDATE 6.30 PM

The execution of Juan Carlos Chavez, the South Miami-Dade farmhand who raped and murdered 9-year-old Jimmy Ryce in 1995, was temporarily delayed Wednesday evening because of last-minute legal wrangling.

A spokeswoman for the office of Gov. Rick Scott said the state, as of 6:30 p.m., was still awaiting a final go-ahead from the U.S. Supreme Court.

UPDATE 3.55 pm

For his last meal, Chavez requested ribeye steak; French fries; a fruit mixture of mangoes, bananas and papaya; strawberry ice cream; and mango juice. He ate and drank all of it, according to Department of Corrections spokeswoman Jessica Cary.

Chavez had no visitors Wednesday except for a Catholic spiritual adviser. Cary said his demeanor was calm.

————————————————————————–

he case haunted Miami-Dade Police Det. Pat Diaz’s career

For Pat Diaz, retracing the steps of a tragedy is not easy.

“That’s the bus stop,” Diaz says, pointing at a street corner in the area near Homestead known as the Redland.

The former Miami-Dade Police homicide detective led the search for a missing boy named Jimmy Ryce back in 1995.

“When you have a missing 9-year-old, you want to believe, you always have the hope that you’ll find the child,” Diaz said, reminiscing about the case that would haunt his career.

To this day, the street sign at the corner is a memorial to the little boy who never grew up, decorated with flowers and pictures of Jimmy. A man named Juan Carlos Chavez took Jimmy, a case that struck fear into the hearts of parents everywhere. Detective Diaz heard the details when Chavez confessed.

“He tells us he rolls down his window, points the gun at him and says get in the trunk, Jimmy crosses the street and gets in the trunk with him, and basically this is where it happened,” Diaz said, standing at the spot at which Chavez abducted the boy. “Jimmy was probably 250 yards from his house, that’s how close he was to his house.”

Volunteers passed out flyers, joined police in searching the area, and it was all too late. Chavez had already abducted, tortured, and killed Jimmy in his trailer.

“It’s the parent’s worst nightmare,” said Michael Band, a Miami attorney who, in 1995, was the prosecutor on the case.

Band won the first-degree murder conviction and a death sentence for Chavez, who is scheduled to be executed Wednesday.

But it wasn’t easy, Band says. There was tremendous pressure from the community, the trial had to be moved to Orlando to seat an impartial jury, and he had to control his own emotions.

“You don’t remove yourself, you try to be as rational as one can be but you think about things like that, you think, that could’ve been my kid, could’ve been your kid,” Band said.

Chavez was on the way to death row, but the pain only got worse for the victim’s father, Don Ryce: Over the years he lost everyone except his son, Ted Ryce. After Jimmy’s murder, the stress and depression hung over the Ryce family. A heart attack killed Don Ryce’s wife, Claudine Ryce, in 2009. His daughter committed suicide, still despondent over Jimmy’s death.

“If there was ever anyone in the world who deserved to die it’s the man who did that,” Don Ryce said last month, speaking after the governor signed the death warrant for Chavez.

“I think, sadly, the statistics are that predators are not going to be deterred because Juan Carlos Chavez gets executed,” Band said.

That doesn’t mean Band has second thoughts about asking for the death penalty. He agrees that Chavez got what he deserved. Band says the verdict was professionally satisfying, but there’s a hole in his heart when he thinks of Don Ryce.

“He still goes home without Jimmy,” Band said, and the execution won’t change that awful reality. (nbcmiami)

February 11, 2014

  Juan Carlos Chavez                       Jimmy Rice

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — “It’s been a long, long time coming,” said the father of Jimmy Ryce, upon learning that Wednesday, February 12th is the day the man who kidnapped, raped, murdered and dismembered his 9-year-old son, will be put to death.

It was September 11, 1995 when Jimmy Ryce disappeared without a trace when he got off his school bus near his home in The Redland.

Juan Carlos Chavez, 46, was convicted of the heinous crime three years later.

It was a trial that captivated South Florida and the rest of the nation.

Chavez was charged with the crime three months after Jimmy vanished. Chavez confessed but years would pass before he came to trial. The delay tormented Jimmy’s parents.

“There is no constitutional right to delay a trial until the victim’s families die of old age,” said Jimmy’s father Don Ryce in May of 1998.

Chavez did eventually go before a jury in Orlando. The trial was moved there because of intense media scrutiny. The Ryce family came to the trial every day, including Jimmy’s sister Martha.

“And I’m here to represent my family, and Jimmy, because he can’t be here,” said Martha in September of 1998.

Lead prosecutor Catherine Vogel told of Chavez confessing to snatching Jimmy Ryce from the side of the road, raping and shooting him in a remote trailer, and then using a wicked looking bush hook to dismember the boy’s body.

“He took the tool, he chopped the body into about four different pieces,” said Vogel during the 1998 trial.

Chavez sealed the remains with concrete in plastic planters.

For then prosecutor Vogel, now Monroe County’s State Attorney, they are images she will never forget.

“We had to excavate those planters, we had to dig through the concrete to find poor little Jimmy Ryce’s body that had been dismembered,” said Vogel.

Ranch owner Susan Scheinhaus testified how she found Jimmy’s book bag and homework in a travel camper that Chavez lived in which was located on her property where he worked as a farm hand.  But the defense dropped a bombshell.

“The detectives were telling me what I should and should not write,” said Chavez through a translator at the trial.

Chavez recanted his confession and claimed his employer’s son killed Jimmy.

The Ryce’s watched outraged at the defense ploy.

“Their dream is to exchange high fives over Jimmy’s grave, while they set their client loose to rape and murder another child,” said an angry Don Ryce during the trial.

But former homicide detective Felix Jimenez, who is now with the Inspector General’s office, took Chavez’s confession. He said Chavez first told a series of lies including a tale of accidentally running over Jimmy and putting his body in a canal that divers searched for hours before Chavez finally came clean.

“He admitted in detail to everything that he did,” said Jimenez. “His confession was so detailed, that only the killer would know.”

For instance, police didn’t know until Chavez told them that Jimmy was killed in the filthy, falling down trailer.

“When we went there and we looked, and we found Jimmy Ryce’s blood exactly where he said he shot him, then we knew we had gotten to the truth,” said Vogel.

A gun found in Chavez’s camper was an exact ballistics match for the bullet that killed Jimmy.

The jury convicted Chavez on all counts in less than an hour.

“Had he gotten away with it, he would have killed again and again and again,” said Michael Band, the man who prosecuted Chavez. Band is now a private defense attorney.

On November 23, 1998, Chavez was sentenced to death.

Judge Marc Schumacher sentenced Chavez to die in old sparky, the electric chair.  But the appeals dragged on for years.

At a hearing in January 2007, his mother said, “You know, it’s been over eleven years since Jimmy was killed, and he was only nine years old.  So he’s been dead longer than he lived.” Jimmy would have been 21 years old at that hearing.

Governor Rick Scott finally signed the death warrant for Chavez in January.

Claudine Ryce didn’t live to see it. She died from coronary disease, a broken heart, in 2009.

Jimmy’s sister Martha took her own life last year at the age of 35.

When Don Ryce learned of the Chavez’s death warrant last month, he wept. His son Ted is his only remaining family.

“We’ve suffered a terrible loss,” said an emotional Don Ryce. “A loss you don’t wish on anyone.”

Monday, February 10th, Chavez was denied a stay of execution by the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. It’s one of the final appeals left for Juan Carlos Chavez before his scheduled execution on Wednesday evening.  click here opinion.pdf

What Death Row Inmates’ Last Meals Say About Guilt or Innocence


february 9, 2014 (abcnews)

More than any of the bizarre traditions in American history, the “special meal” served to a convicted felon just prior to execution has captured the imagination and curiosity of just about everyone from movie moguls to legal scholars to scientists.

There is a historical suggestion that the meal serves as a means of reconciliation between the murderer and the society that has extracted final revenge, perhaps even making the executioner feel more comfortable in his solitary role.

But a new study offers evidence that the last meal provides a last chance for a person who feels he or she has been unjustly condemned to show innocence.

Researchers Kevin M. Kniffin and Brian Wansink of Cornell University have looked at the last meals requested — or rejected — by 247 persons who were executed in the United States between 2002 and 2006 and found that those who maintained their innocence to the very end were far more likely to reject the meal than prisoners who had accepted their guilt.

“Those who denied guilt were 2.7 times as likely to decline a last meal than people who admitted guilt (29 percent versus 8 percent,)” they conclude in their study, published in the journal Laws.

Prisoners who were “at peace” with their sentence, as the researchers put it, asked for 34 percent more calories than those who insisted they were innocent, and the “innocents” asked for “significantly fewer brand-name food items.”

The researchers see the declination of a last meal as an opportunity for a prisoner who thinks the conviction was wrong to tell the executioner to, well, shove it.

“Last meal requests offer windows into self-perceived or self-proclaimed innocence,” the researchers claim, and thus could provide a sort of court-of-last-resort verdict because if innocent people won’t eat, and guilty people will, perhaps the system ought to pay more attention to the final menu.

They concede in their own study, however, that there are “several limitations to generalizing from our analysis,” since claims of innocence might not be altogether honest reflections of the prisoner’s real opinion, and there is little continuity in how the records are kept from one prison to another, and most (71 percent) of the prisoners who claimed to be innocent still wanted that last meal.

Still, the results are intriguing and offer an additional reason for continued analysis of death row’s “special meals.” Why they are offered, what they mean, and why this started in the first place remains ambiguous.

It is generally thought that the tradition started centuries ago in Europe, when the last meal was seen as a way to deny vengeance on the part of society — so the meal must have been pretty good — and to allow the condemned a bit of peace before the blade dropped. It was also supposed to prevent his ghost from returning.

However, the law of the land in England, at least, as of the 18th century, was solitary confinement, on bread and water, until the end. So go figure. More recently, in the United States at least, the ritual has taken on a broader use, especially in highly publicized cases.

Odell Barnes, a 31-year-old black male, was sentenced to death in 1991 for murdering his lover, Helen Bass, in Texas. The case was based on the testimony of a sole witness who said he saw Barnes fleeing Bass’s home on the night of the stabbing. The evidence was considered so weak that Barnes became a poster child for the anti-execution movement.

Just before his execution, and still claiming innocence, Barnes was asked what he wanted for his last meal. He answered:

“Justice, equality, world peace.”

Sometimes, the requested last menu has seemed more sarcastic than conciliatory.

Timothy McVeigh, the domestic terrorist behind the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that claimed 168 lives, was executed in 2001 after eating two pints of mint chocolate-chip ice cream.

Controversy over the last meal can linger long after the execution. One of the most famous examples involved Ricky Ray Rector, who shot and killed a police officer in Arkansas and then tried to blow his own brains out. He survived with what amounted to a “frontal lobotomy,” which many claimed left him mentally unfit to stand trial.

He specifically asked for a slice of pecan pie as part of his last meal, but he didn’t eat it, apparently thinking he would enjoy it after the execution. Many still argue that showed he was incompetent and “did not understand his fate,” as one scholar put it.

Ignoring appeals from Pope Benedict XVI and former President Jimmy Carter, as well as thousands of others, Troy Davis was executed in Georgia in 2011 for killing an off-duty police officer. Davis, like others, used his opportunity to request a special meal to make a statement:

“This meal will not be my last,” he said.

One condemned man eliminated the opportunity for others in his situation to ask for any special meal at all.

Lawrence Russell Brewer asked for two chicken-fried steaks with gravy and sliced onions, a triple-patty bacon cheeseburger, a bowl of fried okra with ketchup, a pound of barbecued meat with half a loaf of white bread, a portion of three fajitas, a meat-lover’s pizza, ice cream, peanuts and on and on. When the meal arrived, he declined it, saying he wasn’t hungry.

The stunt so angered Texas authorities that the last-meal tradition was abolished in 2011.

Murderer Gary Gilmore got something that is denied to most inmates: three shots of whiskey. He died by firing squad in Utah in 1977.

Bruno Richard Hauptmann, convicted of kidnapping and killing Charles Lindberg’s baby, may have had more accusers, and defenders, than any other defendant in American history. Many, including Hauptmann, insisted he was innocent, and he went to the chair believing he would be spared. He had been told he would, if he just confessed to the crime.

He didn’t, and he died, after his special, curious meal of celery, olives, chicken, French fries, buttered peas, cherries and cake.

None, however, was better at rubbing salt in the wounds than Adolph Eichmann, the Holocaust mass murderer of World War II. His last meal:

A bottle of Carmel, a dry red wine from Israel.