Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Last words of a prisoner about to be executed were: "I did not get my SpaghettiOs, I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this."

Thomas J. Grasso was a 34-year-old white male executed by lethal injection at Oklahoma State PenitentiaryMcAlester, OklahomaUSA, on March 20, 1995, for a double murder.
He strangled Hilda Johnson, an 87-year-old woman, using her Christmas tree lights on December 24, 1990, in her Tulsa home. He stole $8 from her purse, $4 in loose change, and her television set which he sold for $125.
Six months later, after moving to New York with his wife, Lana, he murdered Leslie Holtz, an 81-year-old man from Staten Island, on July 4, 1991, stealing his Social Security check.
Grasso was found guilty and sentenced in the State of New York for both crimes but as this state had its execution chamber closed from 1978 to 1994, his sentence was converted to life in prison without parole. Grasso's case became an issue in George E. Pataki's gubernatorial campaign and 11 days after Pataki took office, Grasso was extradited, fulfilling the new governor's campaign pledge. Pataki and Governor Frank Keating of Oklahoma signed an agreement that allowed Oklahoma correction officials to take custody of Grasso on January 11, 1995.
Grasso spent his last days on the normal prison schedule, confined for 23 hours a day to his 14- by 18-foot cell in the prison's Death Row. 
His last meal was two dozen steamed mussels, two dozen steamed clams (flavored by a wedge of lemon), a double cheeseburger from Burger King, a half-dozen barbequed spare ribs, two strawberry milkshakes, one-half of a pumpkin pie with whipped cream, diced strawberries, and a 16-ounce can of spaghetti-meatballs, served at room temperature.
Less than an hour before he died, he issued his fourth and final statement, "I did not get my SpaghettiOs, I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this."
Just before 1:00 a.m. (EST) on March 20, 1995, prisoner No. 209207 walked from his cell to the execution chamber. About 1:00 a.m., with Grasso strapped to the gurney, warden Ron Ward picked up a phone in the witness room and spoke to Governor Keating, who granted permission to proceed from his official residence in Oklahoma City. Grasso was pronounced dead at 1:22 a.m.

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