What are the thoughts of people waiting to be executed? Do they comfort themselves with beautiful memories or think despondently of their regrets? Or maybe their mind remains empty, thinking only of their final meal. Thoughts aside, the last words of many prisoners have been documented.
Besides the many examples of noble or idealistic words, when people defended their beliefs until their last breath, there are a bunch of ironic, funny, and bizarre last words.
For example, speaking of bizarre, it’s Marie Antoinette’s last words that come to mind. On October 16, 1793, before being taken to the guillotine, the extravagant Queen of France was driven through Paris in an open carriage wearing a plain white dress and her hair cut short. Thousands of people saluted the Queen on the way to her death.
However, the audience wasn’t much entertained by the frightened 38-year-old woman. Marie Antoinette kept her composure, and as the 18-century journalist, Jacques Hebert described, she remained “bold and impudent to the very end.”
Before being beheaded, while everyone expected a spectacle of a speech or memorable last words, she simply said “Forgive me, sir, I meant not to do it,” addressing the very man who would then execute her.
As for funny or ironic last words, there were a few prisoners in history who got creative on death row.
In 1928 in New York City, George Appel was convicted of first-degree murder for killing a police officer. He was immediately sentenced to death by electric chair, to be carried out that same year. His final words? “Well, gentlemen, you are about to see a baked Appel.”
In 1966, James D. French was the only man executed in the U.S. that year, and the last one executed under Oklahoma’s death penalty law. French was sentenced to life in prison for killing a motorcyclist who gave him a ride while French was hitchhiking across Texas in 1958.
While in jail, French started thinking about committing suicide but was too afraid to do so. He decided to kill his cellmate, because, as French said, “He was stupid and refused to shape up.” He was then sentenced to death by electric chair. Sitting on the chair, his last words were: “How’s this for your headline? French Fries”.
The very last romantic words spoken.
David Matthews broke into his uncle, Otis Earl Short’s home with an intention to rob him. However, the robbery ended up with Matthews killing his uncle. The event took place in 1994, and Matthews was sentenced to death. But he waited until 2011 for the execution to take place in Oklahoma State Penitentiary as his punishment was postponed three times, giving him a chance to prove his innocence.
When the government finally put him to a death by lethal injection, Matthews still believed that there would be another postponement. Laying there, receiving the injection, Matthews said that he was enjoying his time with a smile on his face. His final words were: “I think the governor’s phone is broke. He hasn’t called yet.”
Jimmy Glass escaped from jail with his fellow inmate on Christmas evening 1982. He was twenty years old, on the run, and together with his inmate killed a middle-aged couple in their home, which he was subsequently sentenced to death for. Glass was famous for opening a case against the State of Louisiana, petitioning against execution by electrocution.
His case was denied, and Glass was put on the electric chair. Moments before the electricity ran through his body, he said: “I’d rather be fishing.” Those were his final words.