Friday, June 29, 2007

No Laughing Matter

A few weeks ago I posted this story about Patrick Knight, a death row inmate in Texas. Knight was collecting jokes with the purpose of selecting the best one to be his final statement before being executed.

Patrick Knight was executed this past Tuesday (June 26). The following is from this AP story:

Condemned prisoner Patrick Knight was executed Tuesday evening for the deaths of an Amarillo-area couple without delivering on a promise to tell a joke in his final statement.

Patrick Knight has been soliciting jokes in the mail and on a Web site, sometimes receiving as many as 20 a day, saying his humor was intended to raise the spirits of other inmates. He said he received as many as 1,300 proposals.

But when the moment came, Knight thanked God for his friends and asked for help for innocent men on death row. He named several he said were innocent. His voice shaking and nearly in tears, he said, "Not all of us are innocent, but those are."

After expressing love to some friends, he said, "I said I was going to tell a joke. Death has set me free. That's the biggest joke. I deserve this."

"And the other joke is that I am not Patrick Bryan Knight and y'all can't stop this execution now. Go ahead, I'm finished."

Nine minutes later at 6:21 p.m. CDT, he was pronounced dead.

Prison spokeswoman Michelle Lyons disputed Knight's mistaken identity claim.

"We fingerprint them when they come over," she said.

Randall County Sheriff Joel Richardson, who watched Knight die, said the joke plan seemed to be a ploy by Knight to draw attention to himself.

"Despite all the hype about his joke, it turns out he's not much of a comedian," he said. "He's simply an executed cold-blooded killer."

I wasn't going to write anything by way of comment on this, but...

"[...] I am not Patrick Bryan Knight and y'all can't stop this execution now. Go ahead, I'm finished." It seems quite possible to me that this is more than just a simple "mistaken identity claim". Patrick Knight had been on death row for 16 years. Who among us could honestly say "I'm the same person I was 16 years ago"? Was the person executed this past Tuesday in fact a "cold-blooded killer"? The only one who knows the answer to that question is Patrick Knight. It's too late to ask him now.

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