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LIVINGSTON, Texas -- Condemned prisoner Patrick Knight wants to leave them laughing.

Knight acknowledged there's nothing funny about his likely execution later this month for the fatal shooting of his neighbors, Walter and Mary Werner, almost 16 years ago outside Amarillo. But to help him come up with his final statement, Knight is accepting jokes mailed to him on Texas' death row or e-mailed to a friend who has a Web site for him. The friend then mails him the jokes.

Knight said the joke he finds the funniest will be his final statement the evening of June 26.


"I'm not trying to disrespect the Werners or anything like that," he told The Associated Press from death row. "I'm not trying to say I don't care what's going on. I'm about to die. I'm not going to sit here and whine and cry and moan and everything like that when I'm facing the punishment I've been given.

"I'm not asking for money. I'm not asking for pen pals or anything like that. All I'm asking for is jokes."

He said he's already received about 250 wisecracks.

"Lawyer jokes are real popular," he said. "Some of them are a little on the edge. I'm not going to use any profanity if I can find the one I want, or any vulgar content. It wouldn't be bad if it was a little bit on the edge. That would be cool."

Knight, 39, would be the last of five condemned inmates set to die in Texas over three weeks this month as the state embellishes its notoriety as the nation's most active in carrying out capital punishment.

Fourteen executions already have happened in Texas this year and if all five take place in June, the pace will be just shy of the record of 40 executions set in 2000. At least 10 other inmates already have execution dates set for the second half of the year.

Besides Knight, among those set to die this month is Cathy Lynn Henderson, who would be the fourth woman executed in Texas since the state resumed capital punishment in 1982 and the 12th nationally since the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976 allowed the death penalty to resume.

This month's series of executions is to begin Wednesday with Michael Griffith, 56, a former Harris County sheriff's deputy convicted of the October 1994 rape, robbery and fatal stabbing of Deborah Jean McCormick, 44, who worked at her family's Houston flower shop and wedding chapel where Griffith was a regular customer.

Henderson, 50, is set to die June 13 for the 1994 slaying of Brandon Baugh, a 3-month-old Austin-area child she was babysitting. Henderson has insisted the child's skull was fractured when she accidentally dropped him while trying to calm the cranky infant. His body was found 18 days after she and the child disappeared and about 60 miles to the north, buried in a field in a wine cooler box. She said she panicked and fled to her native Missouri.

On June 20, Lionell Rodriguez, 36, faces injection for the fatal shooting of a Houston woman, Tracy Gee, 22, in 1990. Rodriguez was 19 at the time of the slaying and on parole only three weeks after serving three months of a seven-year sentence for burglary. She was gunned down and her car taken as she waited at a stoplight a few blocks from home.

The following day, June 21, Gilberto Reyes, 33, is set for execution for the 1998 beating death of his ex-girlfriend, Yvette Barraz. The 19-year-old woman was hit at least six times in the head with a claw hammer, raped and strangled. She was abducted after leaving her job as a waitress at a restaurant in Muleshoe in Bailey County, a sparsely populated county northwest of Lubbock along the Texas-New Mexico border.

Knight is then scheduled to die five days later.

"I know I'm not innocent," said Knight, who believes his appeals have been exhausted. "They think they're killing me. They think they're punishing me. They've already punished me. I've already had 16 years of punishment. They're releasing me. They're letting me go. That's helping me out. That's the way I look at it."

Knight said he got the idea for a joke as his last statement after a friend, Vincent Gutierrez, was executed earlier this year and laughed from the death chamber gurney: "Where's a stunt double when you need one?"

"I'm going to go up there and tell them I'm the stunt double guy," Knight said. He said he's sharing the jokes he gets with his fellow inmates "to try to keep their hearts right and things like that."

"It's a way to get laughter back there and ease the tension," he said.

He said he prefers jokes that don't have a prison or death penalty theme.

"That depresses me," he said.

NBC-Houston
 

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My last words would be "can we get started already? I'm having dinner with the devil at 6:00pm and I don't want to be late."
 

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:laughing: in the end, I read he couldn't do it.
 
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