RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- Just before the Commonwealth of Virginia electrocuted 42-year-old Robert Charles Gleason, Jr. Wednesday night, the three-time murderer’s last words were “kiss my ass” in Gaelic and then “God Bless.”
Among the 16,000-some executions in this nation’s history, his was among the many unrepentant and defiant exit statements.
And it wasn’t original.
“Kiss my ass” was also the final statement of extreme serial killer John Wayne Gacy Jr., an amateur clown who sexually assaulted and murdered at least 33 boys and young men during the 1970s. He was executed in Illinois, one of the most reviled humans in history.
And Johnny Frank Garrett Sr., executed in Texas in 1992 for the rape and murder of a 76 year-old nun thanked his family, then said, “the rest of the world can kiss my ass.”
Virginia, with the second highest rate of executions in the land in modern history, has heard a wide variety of final statements.
"Tell my family and friends I love them. Tell the governor he just lost my vote. Y'all hurry this along. I'm dying to get out of here,” said robber and murderer Christopher Scott Emmett, executed here in 2008.
“Today is a good day to die,” began the final statement of contract murderer Mario Benjamin Murphy, executed in Virginia in 1997. “I forgive all of you. I hope God does, too.”
Linwood Briley, among the worst serial killers in Richmond history, simply said “I am innocent” before he was executed in the old state pen in Richmond in 1984.
Not long before his execution, Briley, his brother James and Lem Tuggle led a bold death row escape, the only in state history. When Tuggle was executed on December 12, 1996, his final words were a cheery and loud “Merry Christmas!”
Beltway Sniper John Allen Muhammad said not one word when he was killed by lethal injection here in 2009.
Teresa Lewis, the first woman executed in Virginia since 1912, apologized to her victim’s daughter just before she died by lethal injection in 2010. Lewis had hired someone to kill her husband and stepson. “I want Kathy to know I love her and I’m very sorry.”
There have been a lots of repentant murderers, all across the country, whose final statements were “I love you.”
I’ve been thinking about these final statements. Pretty bizarre. But maybe we could even learn something from this.
Imagine how we would talk to our friends, family and co-workers if it was our last chance – because you never know, something could happen to them, or us.
I bet there would be a lot fewer kiss my asses, and a whole lot more I love yous.
That’s my take, please leave yours here. And thanks for watching. I love you.