Texas put 15 men to death in 2012, more than every other state in the union. Here are the accounts of their crimes and their last words, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (which, as some of our Facebook readers were quick to gripe, needs to work on its spelling of “y’all”).
January 26, 2012: Rodrigo Hernandez, 38
Crime: In February of 1994, when he was 21, Hernandez abducted a woman from a grocery store parking lot and sexually assaulted her. Upon realizing she wasn’t breathing, he deposited her body in a garbage can in a nearby park. DNA evidence later implicated him in a 1991 rape and murder, but he was never tried for those crimes.
Excerpt from Last Words: “Are they already doing it? I’m gonna go to sleep. See you later. This stuff stings, man almighty.”
February 29, 2012: George Rivas, 41
Crime: While serving a life sentence for prior offenses, Rivas led a band of seven escapees out of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Connally Unit in Kenedy. While on the outside, the escapees shot and killed a police officer after robbing a sporting goods store.
Excerpt from Last Words: “To my friends, all the guys on the row, you have my courtesy and respect. Thank you to the people involved and to the courtesy of the officers. I am grateful for everything in my life. To my wife, take care of yourself. I will be waiting for you. I love you. God bless. I am ready to go.”
March 7, 2012: Keith Steven Thurmond, 53
Crime: In 2001, when he was 41, Thurmond lost custody of his son to his estranged wife and her boyfriend. Thurmond donned a black karate outfit, came to their mobile home and murdered the wife and her lover in front of his son.
Excerpt from Last Words: “All I want to say is I’m innocent, I didn’t kill my wife. Jack Leary shot my wife then her dope dealer Guy Fernandez. Don’t hold it against me, Bill. I swear to God I didn’t kill her. Go ahead and finish it off. You can taste it.”
March 28, 2012: Jesse Joe Hernandez, 47
Crime: In Dallas in 2001, a 37-year-old Hernandez was taking care an 11-month old boy and his young sister. Hernandez struck the boy and girl in the head with a flashlight. The baby boy did not survive. Hernandez had a history of indecency with children, cocaine possession, and domestic violence.
Excerpt from Last Words: “Go Cowboys! Love ya’ll man. Don’t forget the T-ball. Ms. Mary, thank you for everything that you’ve done. You too, Brad, thank you. I can feel it, taste it, not bad.”
April 26, 2012: Beunka Adams, 29
Crime: In 2002, when he was 19, Adams and an accomplice robbed a Cherokee County convenience store, abducted two female clerks and a male employed by the store. Adams then raped one of the women and then shot all three employees, leaving them for dead. The two women survived, however, and called for help at a nearby house.
Excerpt from Last Words: “I hate the way things turned out. Ms. Sheri, thank you. To the victims again, I hate the way all of this happened to ya’ll. I don’t think any good will come of this. I am going to see ya’ll again. I love ya’ll, be strong for me. Keep your heads up. I came into the world strong. I’ll leave the world strong. Warden, go ahead. I am sorry for the victim’s family. Murder isn’t right, killing of any kind isn’t right. Got to find another way.”
July 18, 2012: Yokamon Laneal Hearn, 33
Crime: In 1998, Hearn, then 19, and three accomplices approached a Plano man who was washing his car at a Dallas car wash. The group then forced the man into his car, drove him out to the Dallas wastewater treatment plant and shot him 12 times in the head and chest. According to testimony at his trial, he later bragged about shooting the man after seeing a newspaper account of the crime. Although his attorneys claimed he was too mentally inept to be executed, late IQ-testing determined this was not the case.
Excerpt from Last Words: “Yes, I would like to tell my family that I love ya’ll and I wish ya’ll well. I’m ready.”
August 7, 2012: Marvin Lee Wilson, 54
Crime: Wilson, then 34, got into a confrontation with a man outside a Beaumont convenience store. The man had earlier tipped off the police that Wilson was in possession of cocaine, so Wilson and an accomplice severely beat the man and shot him in close range in the head and neck. Wilson caused controversy because of a low IQ score—61—on a 2004 test. Critics argue that his execution should have been barred due to the 2004 Supreme Court case Atkins v. Virginia, which bars the execution of the seriously mentally disabled. His lawyers maintained that, though he was a grown man, he still sucked his thumb and could not figure out how to use a phone book or ladder.
Excerpt from Last Words: “Take me home Jesus, take me home Lord, take me home Lord. I ain’t left yet, must be a miracle. I am a miracle. I see you, Rich. Don’t cry son, don’t cry baby. I love ya’ll. I’m ready.”
September 20, 2012 : Robert Wayne Harris, 40
Crime: Harris, then 28, was fired from a car wash in Irving after exposing himself to a customer. He returned the following Monday and shot the manager, assistant manager, and four other employees. Five of the six died. He then took the week’s proceeds from the safe and used them to buy clothes, check into a motel, and asked a friend to use it to buy him some jewelry.
Excerpt from Last Words