TENNESSEE LAST MEAL
PHILIP RAY WORKMAN
May 9, 2007
...Nashville's Union Rescue Mission received 170 pizzas....
Last Meal: Workman had no final meal request...for himself. He asked that a vegetarian pizza be purchased and donated to a homeless person for his last meal, but prison officials refused.
“He instructed that it be given to a homeless person but we’re not able to do that," a prison spokeswoman said. Instead, Workman decided to skip dinner on the eve of his execution. "He could have had food from the cafeteria that the other inmates were having tonight."
News accounts of his request touched a nerve with the public.
Nashville's Union Rescue Mission received 170 pizzas. Media reports said listeners to a radio station in Minnesota also ordered pizzas sent to another organization for troubled youngsters.
Dorinda Carter, spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Correction, said, "Taxes are to be spent on specific things for the care of the inmates." But she acknowledged there was no regulation against carrying out Workman's request.
An official at the mission said "the pizzas were enjoyed greatly by our clientele."
The skinny: Workman, 53, was executed for the murder of a Memphis police officer in 1981.
More skinny: A Memphis police lieutenant responded to a holdup alarm at a Wendy's restaurant. He approached Workman as he was leaving the restaurant after the robbery. Workman broke away from the officer, who ordered him to stop. The victim and Officer Aubrey Stoddard then grabbed Workman, who broke free again, shot the man once in the chest and Stoddard in the arm. Workman was found hiding in bushes nearby with the .45 caliber murder weapon.
Workman admitted during his trial that he fired the shot that killed the lieutenant. Workman was shot himself, said he had been using cocaine that day and that he did not intend to kill the man. The robbery netted about $1,170.
Appeals: Since receiving the death penalty, Workman has argued, with some scientific support, that the man could have been shot by another policeman during the shootout.
Most in law enforcement and most courts have responded, "So what!"
Leading up to: Workman spent his final hours talking on the telephone, reading the Bible and visiting with a spiritual adviser.
Last words and such: Workman has previously been on "death watch" three times and has come within hours of execution before being granted stays.
Workman's arms, legs and midsection were strapped to the gurney. He wore white prison pants and a cream prison top.
“I've prayed to the Lord Jesus Christ not to lay charge of my death to any man." About two minutes later, with his eyes closed as he gulped, somewhat nervously, Workman uttered a final statement: “I commend my spirit into your hands Lord Jesus Christ.”
Factoids: Workman was the...
18th murderer executed in U.S. in 2007
1075th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
1st murderer executed in Tennesee in 2007
3rd murderer executed in Tennesee since 1976
Workman asked the U.S. District Court in Nashville to release his body to his brother immediately after his death and not allow an autopsy to be performed. Judge Campbell later issued a temporary injunction ordering the state not to autopsy Workman’s body at least until a hearing can be held. It will be up to his family to give him a burial.
Outside the prison, about 60 anti-death penalty protestors gathered for a vigil. As the time for a reprieve grew short, some of the protestors said they had lost hope that his life would be spared. The group was singing and holding hands in a circle while standing in a fenced-off grass field.
Workman had been on death row for 25 years.