Feb 14, 2013

The last meals of death row inmates executed for crimes they were proved to INNOCENT of years later


By on Thursday, February 14, 2013

 Claude Howard Jones
Charge: Liquor store robbery and murder in Texas
Year of execution: 2000
Proved innocent: 2010 thanks to DNA test on a single hair
The prosecution claimed that in November 1989, Jones entered Zell's liquor store in Point Blank and shot the owner, Allen Hilzendager, three times while he went to retrieve a bottle for him.
Jones and his two accomplices before fleeing with $900 in cash stolen from the register.
Three days later, the trio robbed a bank in Humble, Texas, obtaining $14,000 in loot.
They then went on a weekend trip to Las Vegas. About three weeks after the liquor store robbery, Jones was arrested in Florida for bank robbery.
Jones was executed in December 2000 at age 60, the last person put to death during George W. Bush's time as governor.
In his final statement, Jones did not acknowledge guilt but told the Hilzendager family he hoped his death 'can bring some closure to y'all. I am sorry for your loss and hey, I love all y'all. Let's go.'
Ten years later, a DNA test on a strand of hair has cast doubt on Jones' guilt.  
The single hair had been the only piece of physical evidence Jones to the crime scene. But the DNA analysis found it did not belong to Jones and instead may have come from the murder victim.



Man-sized meal: Claude Jones asked for a massive last meal consisting of steak, eight fried eggs, six slices of toast with jam and a glass of milk



David Spence
Charge: Torture and brutal murder of Jill Montgomery, 17, and Kenneth Franks, 18, in a botched murder-for-hire scheme
Year of execution: 1997
Presumed innocent: 2000
Spence was put to death on April 3, 1997, for the torture murders of three teenagers in a Waco park.

The prosecution claimed that the 40-year-old man had been hired by a convenience store clerk to kill a young woman.
According to the prosecution theory, Spence mistook one of the victims for the one he was supposed to kill and, after killing her, killed the other victims because they were witnesses.
On the day of his execution in 1997, David Spence ate his last meal of fried chicken, French fries, chocolate ice cream, Coke, tea and coffee before being strapped to the gurney.
Spence retained his innocence until the very end, denying that he had tortured and stabbed to death three teenagers in 1982. He has been presumed innocent since 2000.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, since 1973, at least 142 death row inmates have been exonerated and freed
The men whose tragic tales were so eloquently told through their last meals were not so lucky.



Back to basics: David Spence sat down to a final meal of fried chicken, a pile of french fries, chocolate ice cream, Coke, tea and coffee




Ruben Cantu
Charge: Robbery and murder that took place in San Antonio, Texas, in 1984
Year of execution: 1993
Proved innocent: 2010
Cantu was 17 in 1984 when two youths broke into a house that was under construction in San Antonio and robbed and repeatedly shot two workmen who were sleeping there to protect the premises. One of the victims died.
Cantu was convicted and sentenced to death solely on the basis of an identification by the surviving victim, who had twice failed to identify Cantu from photo spreads

The case attracted little publicity as Cantu exhausted his appeals. Even his last request — for a piece of bubble gum — was denied.
Twelve years later, however, his story burst into the headlines when two witnesses told the Houston Chronicle that Cantu had not been involved in the crime.



 Comfort food: Ruben Cantu ordered fried chicken and rice as his final prison meal

 Leo Jones 
Charge: Murder of police officer in Florida in 1981 
Year of execution: 1998
Presumed innocent: 1993  
Jones was executed by electrocution on March 24, 1998, after being sentenced to death for the murder of Jacksonville police officer Thomas Szafranski in 1981.
Jones testified at his trial that, 12 hours after his arrest, he had been coerced into making the confession.
He testified that he had been beaten at the scene and later at the police station. 
This was denied by the police and the trial court and subsequent appeals have ruled the confession to be valid.

Jones lost a bid before the Supreme Court a year before his execution when he argued that the electric chair was cruel and unusual punishment.

Working man's meal: Leo Jones requested simple steak and eggs, baked potatoes and four slices of toast

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