“Mr. Jack Smithson you have been condemned to die, on this day the 18th February 1959, in the electric chair. The verdict was passed by a jury of your peers and the sentence will be carried out by I, Chief Warden George Hunning, and the great state of Texas.”
He gazed at Smithson who looked back at him, eyes wide with fear. Smithson had been confident of getting another stay of execution, but now he seemed to realise it would take a miracle to save his life.
Hunning looked around at his colleagues; they were all at their positions. Despite the cool temperature, he wiped beads of sweat from his brow.
“Mr. Smithson if you so wish you have time to make a last statement.”
Smithson considered for a moment. Knowing that no matter what his last words were he would be dead in a few minutes. Was there any point in saying anything? He decided he needed to.
He cleared his throat and felt a lump there, almost choking him. He wondered if his dry mouth would even be able to formulate words.
He took a deep breath and began:
“As I have stated previously: I am an innocent man. What is happening here today is not justice. The court and state are choosing to kill an innocent rather than admit that they have it wrong. I hope everyone involved in this decision can live with themselves, knowing that while they take my life, the real culprit has yet to be brought to justice.”
His mouth was still dry, but there was now defiance in his speech. His prayer session with the reverend echoed in his head and he went on.
“Mr. and Mrs. Alson and Mayhew I am deeply sorry for the loss of your children. I hope God comforts you and that he brings the real culprit to justice. I have said all I wanted to say. I am ready to die, warden.”
Hunning stepped forward clutching a black hood in his hands. He placed it over the head of the condemned who had his head bowed solemnly.
In the dark Smithson could hear his heart thudding furiously. His throat felt like it was closing in. Closing completely shut. He couldn’t breathe. He felt the warden remaining next to him. Could feel his warm breath on the outside of the hood.
A whisper hissed in his ear, “I know you’re innocent. It was me.”
Smithson had a split-second to register a moment of disbelief before he heard a voice say, much louder this time and from further away, “May God have mercy on your soul. Roll on one.”
Smithson opened his mouth to issue an agonised howl just as the first jolt hit him. The howl abruptly shut off as his body tensed in the chair, he grasped frantically at the arms of the chair. Rocking back and forth against the restraints.
There was a low hissing sound and then silence. After he was rendered unconscious the process repeated, but this time there was no sound. Just the rocking back and forth of the body. After the second and final jolt, a physician came forward and listened to his chest for a few moments. He walked over to the wardens and after some conferring, an announcement sounded over a loudspeaker in the chamber.
“Ladies and gentleman, the time of death was 10:42am. This concludes the legal execution of Jack Smithson. Please exit.”