A feast requested by inmate Lawrence Russell Brewer has ended the special last meal program for condemned Death Row inmates, according to Gina Debottis, who has prosecuted many trials in Wichita Falls courtrooms as a prosecutor with the prison prosecution unit.
Debottis made her comments while attending the annual Texas District and County Attorneys Association Conference Friday in Corpus Christi, Texas.
She is now chief of the prosecution unit which handles crimes within prison walls including Allred Unit near Wichita Falls, Texas. The unit which is between Iowa Park and Wichita Falls, is named after former Wichitan James V. Allred, who served as governor of Texas.
According to Debottis, Brewer’s last meal request included fried okra, two chicken fried steaks, a triple meat bacon cheeseburger, three fajitas, a pound of barbecue and a half loaf of white bread, meat lover’s pizza special, one pint of homemade vanilla Blue Bell ice cream, one slab of peanut butter fudge with three crushed peanuts and three root beers.
Brewer never ate this huge buffet before he was executed Wednesday on Texas Death Row.
Why he didn’t sample the feast is a question which will forever remain unanswered. Whether it was a case of nerves or some other reason, it didn’t matter to a powerful Texas state senator who was reportedly furious Thursday morning after hearing of the wasted food.
Senator John Whitmire fired off an angry letter to prisons chief Brad Livingston in the aftermath of the food controversy.
“It is extremely inappropriate to give a person sentenced to death such a privilege. I have yielded to TDCJ judgment in the past but now enough is enough.”
Whitmire vowed to end the 87-year tradition when the Texas Legislature convenes again in two years.
Livingston decided against waiting for the legislature. He announced Thursday that last meals will consist of whatever is on the menu for all prisoners at Huntsville’s Walls Unit.
Brewer was executed for the notorious dragging death of a black man near Jasper, Texas.
Whitmire, a Democrat, serves as chairman of the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee.
Brewer, 44, received the fatal injection for the brutal June 1998 death of James Byrd Jr., 49.
Law enforcement reports show Byrd was chained to the back of a pickup and pulled to his death along an asphalt road near Jasper, which is northeast of Houston.
Whitmire angrily asked how many taxpayers in Texas sat down to a meal like the one Brewer ordered Wednesday night.
Whitmire reportedly has long opposed the tradition of a special last meal for Death Row inmates on the eve of their executions.
Brewer’s last meal request may have broken the all-time Texas record although an inmate in 1983 requested 24 soft shell tacos, six enchiladas, six tostados, two onions, five jalapenos, two cheeseburgers, one chocolate shake, one quart of milk and one package of Marlboro cigarettes. Cigarettes are prohibited by prison policy.
With all the controversies surrounding the death penalty for decades, it appears a new area of debate has been created.
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