Last Meal on Death Row

The Last Supper: Harry Charles Moore by Neal Auch


In June of 1992 Harry Charles Moore murdered two people. The first victim was Thomas Lauri, who Moore gunned down in front of a Salem post office. Moore then drove to the home of Barbara Cunningham where he shot her once in the stomach and then three more times, point blank, in the head.

Moore claimed that he killed Lauri and Cunningham out of fear that they would move to Las Vegas with his estranged wife and child, exposing them to the moral corruption Moore associated with that city. (Cunningham was Moore’s mother in law -- also his half-sister because Moore had married his niece -- and Lauri was Cunningham’s ex husband.)

Moore was executed by lethal injection on May 16, 1997.

His last word was the name of his daughter, Jennifer.

His requested final meal was 2 green apples, 2 red apples, a tray of fresh fruit, and a 2 litre bottle of cola.

The Last Supper: Jonathan Nobles by Neal Auch


On Sept 13 1986 Jonathan Nobles broke into the home of Mitzi Johnson-Nalley and Kelly Farquhar under the influence of a combination of drugs and alcohol. Nobles stabbed both women to death. Mitzi’s boyfriend, Ronald Ross, was stabbed 19 times and lost an eye, but he nevertheless survived the attack. Nobles was executed for his crimes on Oct 7 1998.

Nobles requested the Eucharist in place of a final meal.

Nobles had converted to Catholicism on death row. While in prison he corresponded with infamous euthanasia proponent Dr Jack Kevorkian and attempted (unsuccessfully) to have his kidney donated to a willing patient. In a lengthy final statement Nobles quoted extensively from Corinthians and expressed love for the witnesses.

Nobles sang Silent night as the lethal injection was administered, the performance broken by a gasp as the drugs took effect.

The Last Supper: James Smith by Neal Auch


On March 7 1983 James Smith entered the office of a life insurance company, armed and masked. During the course of the robbery Larry Don Rohus, a district manager, was shot fatally through the chest.

Smith was executed by lethal injection on June 26, 1990, having waived his final appeals, although 4 US Supreme Court justices believed there were serious reasons to doubt Smith’s mental capacity to make such a decision. In his final statement, Smith said: “I myself did not kill anyone, but I go to my death without begging for my life. I will not humiliate myself. I will let no man break me.”

Smith’s requested final meal was a lump of dirt.

The media widely reported that the dirt was supposed to be an important ingredient in some kind of Voodoo ritual. (Smith was apparently a former Voodoo priest.) This claim may well be true; a cursory online search does indeed turn up some confirmation for the idea that dirt is used in various occult rituals. However, these mostly focus on dirt specifically from a graveyard, as opposed to just any old dirt, which is ostensibly what Smith was asking for. It also seems plausible to me that Smith’s final request was intended as a political statement, and that the associations with Voodoo and magic sprouted from the machinations of a racially biased media. In any case, the true meaning of Smith’s final meal request died with him.

Smith’s request for dirt was denied.

He was given yogurt instead.