Your life must be pooled around your feet like heavy water as you put one foot in front of the other, all the way to the execution chamber.
How many moments would you have spent thinking about your last meal, or the words you will say? You’ve likely had years to contemplate those final moments and I wonder if you know yourself: Will you fall apart? Or will you stay calm until the very end?
Surely, there is no death so slow and regimented than a death on death row. The ordeal lasts years, usually, through courts cases and appeals and small glints of hope before, finally, there is no hope at all.
There is a last meal, if you can stomach it.
There is a final visit with family, maybe a priest.
There is the execution chamber itself. Usually with a witness box. You can choose who will be present to watch you die.
It’s a dichotomy like no other. Death row inmates are, for the most part, physically healthy. There is no tumour, or multiplying cells. There’s no degenerative disease, or abnormal blood work. The only thing that’s terminal: their guilt.
They approach death more conscious than most. They’ve had time to think about it, to wonder what it will feel like. They’ve had time to prepare and choose the way they will go.
Here are the final moments of some of the world’s most notorious criminals.
On December 6 last year, William Sallie, 50, was executed in the state of Georgia for the 1990 murder of his father-in-law John Moore.
He had gone on a rampage. His marriage had broken down, he was losing custody of his son, Ryan, who was two, and his ex-wife had gone to live with her parents.
Sallie shot his father-in-law John Moore six times, killing him. He shot is mother-in-law, Linda Moore, four times (she lived) and he kidnapped his wife Robin and her 17-year-old sister April.
He took the two women to a rural property and raped them. Throughout all this, Sallie’s two year old son was left in the house with the bleeding bodies of John and Linda Moore.
Last December, for his last meal, Sallie asked for a medium pizza with pepperoni, some chicken wings with buffalo sauce and a large soft drink. He ate in his cell before being transported to the execution chamber his final words were: “I just want to say I’m very, very sorry for my crimes. I really am sorry,” he said, adding that he had prayed for forgiveness many times.