Saturday, April 05, 2003


A home run of an article by Ms. Rachel Graves.

Ordinary or odd, last meal can tell inmate's story
Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle

HUNTSVILLE -- The smell of fried food lingered in the Texas death house as Richard Head Williams was strapped to the gurney for his February execution.

Williams, a Houston murderer, requested a mammoth last meal of two chili cheese dogs, two cheeseburgers, two orders of onion rings, french fries, chocolate cake, apple pie, butter pecan ice cream, egg rolls, one peach, three Dr Peppers and jalapeƱo peppers. It was served two hours before he was killed.

Facing lethal injection, death row inmates make requests ranging from the strange (a jar of dill pickles) to the ethereal ("justice, equality and world peace").

But in the end, prison officials say, most simply want a cheeseburger.

Last meal requests -- windows into the thoughts of the rare people who know precisely how and when they will die -- fascinate the public.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice posts final meal requests dating back 21 years, and officials say the list is the most popular part of their Web site. Brian Price, a former Texas prisoner who prepared 171 final meals in Huntsville, is publishing a cookbook called Meals to Die For. And a California man recently started a Web site documenting the last meal requests of prisoners across the country.

"We live in such a clean world," said Mike Randleman of Santa Monica, Calif., founder of "We like to glimpse at the dark side from the safety of our home."

His Web site features a drawing of a hanging stick figure, a dripping ice cream cone in its hand.

Read, as they say, the whole thing....