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: “I want to tell ya’ll, know that I love you. Billy, I love you, English, Hart and Eloise. Dwight, take care of Dwight. I’m going home, I’m going home. I’ll be alright, don’t worry. I love ya’ll. God bless and the Texas Rangers, Texas Rangers.”
September 25, 2012: Cleve Foster, 48
Crime: Foster was convicted for being associated with the rape and slaying of a 30-year-old Sudanese immigrant. Foster, then 38, played an active role in the killing and was convicted under the Texas law of parties. He was linked to another murder and rape from 2000, but was never tried in those crimes.
Excerpt from Last Words: “Yes, you know I sat in my cell many days wondering what my last words would be: love for my family, grandson, friends. I love you very much . . . . Hope one day we all be together again. I love you all: Susan, Mrs. Cox, momma, Maurie, Michael. Grandbabies make the world go around. I love you all. Warden, I am looking to leave this place on wings of a homesick angel. Ready to go home to meet my maker. What a friend we have in Jesus, oh my God, I lay in awe ’cause I love you God. I love you momma. I love you Susan.”
October 10, 2012: Jonathan Marcus Green, 44
Crime: In 2000, Green abducted, sexually assaulted, and strangled a 12-year-old girl. According to his attorney, he was not fit to be executed because he suffered from acute psychosis and hallucinations.
Excerpt from Last Words: “I’m an innocent man. I did not kill anyone. Ya’ll are killing an innocent man. My left arm is killing me. It hurts bad.”
October 24, 2012: Bobby Lee Hines, 40
Crime: In Carrollton in 1991, Hines, then 19, used a borrowed master key to gain entry to his 26-year-old neighbor Wendy Haupt’s apartment. After the slaying her with an ice pick, he stole a bowl of pennies, four packs of cigarettes, and a gold charm from her residence.
Excerpt from Last Words: “To the victim’s family, I am sure I know that I took somebody special from ya’ll. I know it wasn’t right, it was wrong. I wish I could give it back, but I know I can’t. If giving my life in return makes it right, so be it. I ask that ya’ll forgive me. I know God forgave me. I know He has forgiven me for what I did. . . . I have a prayer that me and my wife have come up with that I’d like to say. God, hear our prayer. We want to give thanks for this day. I can’t do that prayer, that prayer is not right for ya’lls family or my family. Please forgive me. I love ya’ll. OK Warden, I am ready. I’m going home. I love ya’ll. I’m feeling it.”
October 31, 2012: Donnie Lee Roberts, Jr., 41
Crime: Roberts shot his girlfriend, 44-year-old Vicki Bowen, in the head three times after she refused his demands for money to buy drugs with. He stole Bowen’s son’s car and was arrested at a suspected crack house the same day. He immediately confessed and asked for the death penalty. He is the 250th man to be executed under Governor Rick Perry.
Excerpt from Last Words: “I am truly sorry. I never meant to cause ya’ll so much pain. Not one day has passed that I wish I could take it back. After today, I hope you can go on. I hope this brings you closure. God knows I didn’t want to do what I did. I loved your daughter. I hope to God, He lets me see her in Heaven so I can apologize to her. I’m sorry. I’m glad ya’ll came. Joey, I am really sorry, Joe . . . I want to say goodbye to all of ya’ll. Goodbye. Please tell my daughter I love her. I’ll see ya’ll. I’m sorry, Joey, I’m sorry.”
November 8, 2012: Mario Swain, 33
Crime: In 2002, Swain, then 23, murdered 44-year-old Longview resident Lola Nixon. When Nixon walked in on Swain burglarizing her house, he beat her with a tire iron then stabbed her with a knife repeatedly. He then drove her almost lifeless body to nearby Lakeport and put her in the trunk of an abandoned car.
Excerpt from Last Words: This offender decline to make a last statement
November 14, 2012: Ramon Hernandez, 41
Crime: In 2001, Hernandez abducted, raped, and murdered a 37-year-old Hispanic woman. He was driving around when he saw her standing at a bus stop and attempted to snatch her purse. When she refused to let go of the purse, he pulled her into the car.
Excerpt from Last Words, which he said to his brother, the only family member present at his execution: “Can you hear me? Did I ever tell you, you have dad’s eyes? I’ve noticed that in the last couple of days. I’m sorry for putting you through all this. Tell everyone I love them. It was good seeing the kids. I love them all; tell mom, everybody. I am very sorry for all of the pain. Tell BrendPa I love her. To everybody back on the row, I know you’re going through a lot over there. Keep fighting, don’t give up, everybody.”
November 15, 2012: Preston Hughes, III, 46
Crime: Hughes was convicted of a 1989 stabbing death of a 15-year-old girl and her three-year-old cousin in a field behind his Houston apartment. When police arrived on the scene, Hughes had fled, and the girl was barely alive. Before expiring, she told the police that “Preston tried to rape me” and lab tests backed up her story. Hughes was the only “Preston” in the apartment complex, and was discovered with blood on his clothes. Investigators also discovered the girl’s eyeglasses in his apartment.
Excerpt from Last Words: “Mom, Celeste: Please know I’m innocent and I love you both. Please continue to fight for my innocence even though I’m gone. John, Cort, Allen, Barbara, Louis, and Anna: Thank you for helping me and trying to save my life. I love you. Give everybody my love. Jason, thank you for your friendship. Thank Laura, too. I love all of you. Bye. Ok, Warden.”