JACKSON, GA — A death row inmate ate a huge 5,000 calorie last meal before quoting Cool Hand Luke for his final words preceding his execution — the first of the year in Georgia.
J. W. Ledford, Jr., 45, was given a lethal injection at 1:17 A.M. on Wednesday morning at the state prison in Jackson. When asked if he had any last words, he appeared to quote from the 1967 movie that starred Paul Newman, saying with a smile:
“What we have here is a failure to communicate. Some men you just can’t reach. I am not the failure. You are the failure to communicate. You can kiss my white trash a**.”
For his final meal, Ledford requested filet mignon wrapped in bacon with pepper jack cheese, large french fries, 10 chicken tenders with sauce, fried pork chops, a blooming onion, pecan pie with vanilla ice cream, sherbet, and a Sprite, according to The Washington Post. Is your mouth watering yet?
Ledford made the request for his last meal Friday after his lawyers filed a federal lawsuit stating that Ledford suffers from chronic nerve pain that has been treated with the drug gabapentin, which some experts say alters brain chemistry to the point that lethal-injection drug pentobarbital cannot be relied upon to make him unconscious. According to Ledford’s lawyers, this would violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. They argued that death by firing squad would be less painful, but a federal appeals court rejected the bid.
Ledford had been convicted in the January 1992 stabbing death of his 73-year-old neighbor, Dr. Harry Johnston, during a robbery, a crime during which he admitted to being drunk and stoned.
There have been 68 men and woman executed in Georgia since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. Three states — Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Utah — allow for a firing squad as a backup if lethal-injection drugs aren’t available, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
Main photo: J.W. Ledford, Jr. [Georgia Department of Corrections]