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Top nine death row dinners

It’s a difficult question that you might have asked yourself before; if you knew the next meal was to be your last, what would you choose?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA bottle of Château Lafite and a prime beef steak, a Maine lobster with a crisp Chardonnay or a white truffle risotto with a glass of vintage Champagne might be popular choices. However such luxury is rarely afforded behind prison walls, despite many a prisoner pushing their luck.

Offering a condemned prisoner their choice of a last meal is customary in many cultures with various traditions upheld in different countries. In France a “little glass of rum” is offered to the condemned but no meal, while in the US a meal is offered but usually requests for alcohol or cigarettes are denied.

In pre-modern Europe, the tradition of granting a man’s condemned last meal is said to be rooted in superstition. The acceptance of a last meal is said to symbolise peace, with the condemned agreeing to forgive the executioner, the judge, and witnesses for the killing. Observing the custom is said to prevent the condemned from returning as a ghost to haunt those responsible with the better the food and drink, the stronger the condemned’s forgiveness. Despite this superstition, there is nothing in law that requires a prisoner to be afforded a last meal. In fact, Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England state that “during the short but awful interval between sentence and execution, the prisoner shall be kept alone, and sustained with only bread and water”.

In the US, a last “special” meal is a common practice with requests granted within reason. In Florida, the food for the last meal must be purchased locally at a cost of no more than $40, while in Oklahoma this is limited to $15. Texas abolished all special meal requests in 2011 after condemned prisoner Lawrence Russell Brewer was granted a huge last meal and then refused to eat it saying he wasn’t hungry. His request comprised a plate of two chicken-fried steaks with gravy and sliced onions, a triple-patty bacon cheeseburger, a cheese omelet with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and jalapeños, a bowl of fried okra with ketchup, a pound of barbecued meat with half of a loaf of white bread, a portion of three fajitas, a meat-lover’s pizza (topped with pepperoni, ham, beef, bacon, and sausage), a pint of Blue Bell, a serving of ice cream, a slab of peanut-butter fudge with crushed peanuts, and a serving equivalent to threeroot beers (normally non-alcoholic).

However Brewer’s request is far from the most unusual submitted by death row inmates, as this list of last meals enjoyed by the world’s most hardened criminals before their executions shows…

What would your last meal be? Please leave a comment below…

Peter Kürten (1931), Cologne, Germany

Polizeiaufnahme eines MassenmördersKürten was a serial killer and rapist who became known as the “the Vampire of Düsseldorf” due to his fixation on blood and sexual pleasure. Kürten confessed to 79 offences and was charged with nine murders and seven attempted murders between February and November 1929. He went on trial in April 1931 and was found guilty and sentenced to death. While awaiting execution he was interviewed by Dr. Karl Berg whose interviews formed the basis of his book, The Sadist.

Method: Decapitation by guillotine

Meal:

  • Wiener schnitzel
  • Fried potatoes and a bottle of white wine. He requested seconds and received it.

Otto Adolf Eichmann (1962), Israel

Eichmann,_AdolfOtto Adolf Eichmann was a German Nazi and SS officer and a driving force behind the Holocaust. Following WW2 he was charged with facilitating the mass deportation of Jews to ghettos and extermination camps in German-occupied Eastern Europe during World War II. He was captured in 1960 in Argentina by the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service. Following a widely publicised trial in Israel, he was found guilty of war crimes and sentenced to death.

Method: Hanging

Meal: He declined a meal, preferring instead a bottle of Carmel, a dry red Israeli wine. He drank about half of it.

Gary Carl Simmons, Jr. (2012), Mississippi, US

gary-carl-simmons-4Gary Carl Simmons, became known for requesting a 29,000 calorie last supper when he was executed in Mississippi in 2012. A grocery store butcher, Simmons was convicted of the using his carving knives to dismember a man before scattering the body parts in an alligator-infested bayou in 1996.

Method: Lethal injection

Meal:

  • One Pizza Hut medium Super Supreme Deep Dish pizza with double portions of mushrooms, onions, jalapeño peppers, and pepperoni
  • A second pizza with three cheeses, olives, bell pepper, tomato, garlic, and Italian sausage
  • 10 8-oz. packs of Parmesan cheese
  • 10 8-oz. packs of ranch dressing
  • One family size bag of Doritos nacho cheese flavor
  • 8-oz. jalapeño nacho cheese
  • 4-oz. sliced jalapeños
  • Two large strawberry shakes
  • Two 20-oz. cherry cokes
  • One super-size order of McDonald’s fries with extra ketchup and mayonnaise
  • Two pints of strawberry ice cream.

He consumed about half of the meal.

Gary Gilmore (1977), Utah, US

Gary_Gilmore_mugshotIn 1976 Gary Gilmore robbed and murdered Max Jensen, a gas station employee in Utah, and Bennie Bushnell, a motel manager, despite both men complying with his demands. While disposing of the murder weapon, Gilmore accidentally shot himself in his right hand leaving a trail of blood back to the service garage where he had left his truck to be repaired before murdering Bushnell. He was apprehended as he tried to drive out of the area and was charged with the murders of both men. He became the first man to be executed in the United States in 10 years after he demanded his own execution, in the process prompting a new series of statutes that had previously compelled states to convert death sentences to life in prison.

Method: Firing squad

Meal:

  • A hamburger
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • A baked potato
  • A few cups of coffee
  • Three shots of contraband, Jack Daniel’s whiskey.

Douglas Franklin Wright (1993) Oregon, US

wrightWright was convicted of luring three homeless men to a remote area with a false promise of work, and then killing them. He later confessed to killing a fourth man, Anthony Nelson, a Makah Indian. He was sentenced to death on 11 October 1993. Before his execution he also confessed to the abduction and murder of 10-year-old Luke Tredway in 1984.

Method: Lethal injection

Meal:

  • One honeybun

 

Allen Lee Davis (1999) Florida, US

Allen_Lee_DavisAllen Lee Davis, ironically known as “Tiny”, was executed in 1999 following the murder of Nancy Weiler in 1982, who was three months pregnant at the time. He was also convicted of the murder of her two children, aged nine and five. Davis was on parole for armed robbery at the time of the murders.

Method: Lethal injection

Meal:

  • One lobster tail
  • Fried potatoes
  • A half-pound of fried shrimp
  • Six ounces of fried clams
  • Half a loaf of garlic bread
  • 32 ounces of A&W root beer

 

Alton Coleman (2002) Ohio, US

AltonColeman

Alton Coleman was executed by the state of Ohio following a six-state killing spree in 1984 with his partner Debra Denise Brown. In total, Coleman received four death sentences from three Midwest states: Illinois, Ohio (twice) and Indiana. When authorities captured the pair, Coleman was charged for sexual assaults on at least 20 people in 13 separate attacks, including seven murders.

Brown’s death sentence was converted to life in prison in 1991 by Governor Richard Celeste.

Method: Lethal injection

Meal:

  • Well done filet mignon smothered with mushrooms
  • Fried chicken breasts
  • A salad with French dressing
  • Sweet potato pie with whipped cream
  • French fries
  • Collard greens
  • Onion rings
  • Cornbread
  • Broccoli with melted cheese
  • Biscuits, gravy, and a cherry Coke.

Victor Feguer (1963), Iowa, US

Victor_FeguerVictor Harry Feguer was executed in Iowa in 1963 following the murder of Dr. Edward Bartels – a physician lured by Feguer to his home on his claim that a woman needed medical attention. On his arrival at Feguer’s accomodation, Bartels was kidnapped, taken to Illinois and later killed by Feguer. His body discovered in a cornfield with a single gunshot to the head. Feguer was arrested days later in Alabama after trying to sell Dr. Bartels’ car. Feguer was sentenced to death but appealed the decision. Iowa’s then governor Harold Hughes, who opposed the death penalty, contacted President John F Kennedy to request a reprieve for Feguer, which was denied.

Method: Hanging

Meal:

  • A single olive with the pit still in it.

Ted Bundy (1989) Florida, US

Ted_Bundy_headshotOne of the most prolific serial killers of modern times, Theodore Robert “Ted” Bundy was an American serial killer, kidnapper, rapist, and necrophile who assaulted and murdered dozens of young women and girls during the 1970s. Before his execution he confessed to 30 homicides committed between 1974 and 1978, but the true victim count remains unknown. He decapitated at least 12 of his victims, keeping some of the severed heads at his apartment as mementos. Biographer Ann Rule described him as “a sadistic sociopath who took pleasure from another human’s pain and the control he had over his victims, to the point of death, and even after.”

Method: Electric chair

Meal:

  • Bundy declined a meal so was given (but did not eat) the traditional steak (medium-rare), eggs (over-easy), hash browns, toast, milk, coffee, juice, butter, and jelly.

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