Death Row Inmates Plead for Humanity

William Lynd will be the first to be executed in more than seven months.

ByABC News
May 5, 2008, 10:17 AM

May 6, 2008 — -- "Let's ride" were the last words spoken by Michael Richards before the syringes containing a lethal concoction of chemicals were pumped into his veins in Texas' Huntsville death chamber Sept. 25, 2007.

Richards was the last man to make the long walk from death row to the death chamber before an unofficial moratorium was placed on executions that same day when the Supreme Court began to deliberate on the constitutionality of the three-drug lethal injection method.

As with each person executed for a crime, Richards got to state his own epitaph, and while some remain defiant, many use that last breath to try to redeem themselves.

The grim and often haunting tradition of a doomed inmate's last words will resume today -- three weeks after the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of lethal injection April 16 -- when William Lynd will be led into Georgia's death house.

Lynd, who has spent 17 years on death row for killing his girlfriend in 1988 with three shots to her face, will be the first execution in the United States in more than seven months.

But what Lynd will say, should he decide to speak at all, is likely to include one of the many themes heard in the last statements made by the condemned.

Larry Traylor, the director of communications for the Virginia State Department of Corrections, has witnessed more than 40 executions and told that the final words of offenders typically possess a sort of "very calm anger."

"Some are very repentant and some are not," said Traylor. "A lot of times they may ignore us and not say a thing."

Virginia is second only to Texas as the state with the most executions, having carried out 98 executions since the death penalty's reinstatement in 1976 compared to Texas' 405.