Memento Mori

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The Last Supper: Karla Faye Tucker

At 3am on June 13, 1983, Karla Faye Tucker and her boyfriend Danny Garrett broke into the home of Jerry Dean with the intention of stealing a motorcycle. During the burglary the couple entered Dean’s bedroom where Tucker pinned the victim to his bed, while Garrett bludgeoned the man with a ball peen hammer. Dean was still alive, choking on his own blood, when Garrett left the room to start packing up motorcycle parts. In an effort to “stop him from making that noise“ Tucker struck Dean several times with a pickaxe before Garrett finally returned to the bedroom to deliver the fatal blow.

It was not until Dean was dead that the couple realized there was another person in the bed — Deborah Thorton. After an intense struggle Tucker managed to dispatch the woman, using the same pickaxe that had killed her lover. Tucker would later testify that she found the experience orgasmic.

Karla Faye Tucker was executed by lethal injection on Feb 3, 1998. Her case received considerable attention from the media, in part because of her conversion to Christianity, and in part because she was the first woman to be executed in the US since 1984. In her final statement Tucker apologized to the families of her victims, adding “I hope God will give you peace with this“. Within days of Tucker’s death Fred Allen — who oversaw the execution of Tucker and more than 120 other inmates — resigned from his job, forfeiting his pension. (Allen has since changed his position on the morality of the death penalty.)

Karla Faye Tucker’s final meal request was a single banana, a single peach, and a salad.

Most convicts’ final meal requests are understandably indulgent; hamburgers, steak, fried chicken, and desserts are rather common. Tucker’s light and healthy last supper stands in stark contrast to the norm; given the context, her request seems almost ascetic in its minimalism. In this composition Tucker’s banana and peach are rotten and dangle precariously over the table ledge while the ingredients for her salad, wilted and mouldy, tumble across the table as though thrown.