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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Date With Death: Contemplating My Last Words

By Michael Lambrix

What if someone approached you today and told you that you only had two days to live - and that you had to spend your remaining days in solitary, away from all those that mattered to you. Alone, you slowly count down each moment of every day, each tick of that clock, drawing you closer to a date with death.

You will be allowed to say a few (and only a few) “last words”. Whatever you decide to say is what you will be remembered for (or forgotten, if all you do is waste that last breathe of life).

That is where I am today. As I write this, it is Friday, September 15, 2017, and I am in Cell One, formally known as Q-2101, only feet away from Florida's execution chamber. And in the early evening of October 5, 2017, at precisely 6:00 p.m., the State of Florida intends to put me to death for a crime I did not commit.

After 34-years on Florida's Death Row, I've become familiar with how this process unfolds. I’ve seen many others where I am today (please check out “Execution Day- Involuntary Witness to State Sanctioned Murder”). I've survived three previous attempts by the state to take my life, but I know that this time is different. This time, the odds of surviving this date with death are significantly stacked against me. I don't expect to make it out alive. The Governor is running an election for a tightly contested U.S. Senate seat, and he needs to rally the votes by executing as many as he can. To him, all my life is really worth is the hope of winning a few more votes. He has already sent more people to their death then any other Governor in Florida’s history and, after he kills me, he will move on to his next victim.

The Warden came down to Death Watch the other day and asked me why I'm doing a hunger strike. I explained that I am protesting the injustice of putting me to death without allowing all readily available evidence substantiating my innocence, including DNA evidence, to be heard. He responded by sharing with me that in all the years he has worked in prisons, he has never seen a hunger strike actually accomplish anything. 

Continuing our casual conversation, as if the set of steel bars that separated us didn’t exist, the morning sun now shining through the windows behind the Warden, I offered my observation that, from the prisoner’s perspective, it's not about actually winning whatever issue compelled you to take that drastic act. I don't expect a tangible result. 

Rather, in prison, a person has extremely limited options available with which to protest perceived injustice. Even the slightest hit of expressing anger on the part of a prisoner escalates the situation and punitive sanctions are a standard response.

By the time most get to where I am today, they are already broken. The long journey from being condemned to death, to confronting that date with death is, itself, a deliberate process intended to slowly erode your will to do anything but passively submit to state sanctioned execution.

When that time comes, I am expected to walk into the execution chamber and those waiting within that room will gently, without even the slightest hint of malice, assist me as I climb up on to the gurney where a moment later they will then firmly pull the straps down to render me motionless and unable to physically resist, so they can proceed to expeditiously insert needles connected to long I.V. tubes in each of my arms at the inside of the elbows.

Then the white curtain that separates me from a panel of witnesses safely seated behind a single pane of polished glass will be pulled open. I will quickly scan that small group of people, not more than ten-feet in front of me, desperately looking for a friendly face, or at least a familiar face, but likely to be met with blank stares by most gathered, who have waited many years to watch me die.

Then, in a predetermined and all but imperceptible gesture, the executioner hidden behind a nearby partition will push that first plunger down, forcing a presumably cold lethal liquid into my veins.

It's a ritual, and every aspect of that ritual has been planned to precise detail, and everybody performs their part. And I will too.

But I don't want to just lay down and die, exterminated like nothing more than a glorified cockroach.

And, so, I am doing a hunger strike. I don't expect to gain anything but to protest against this deliberate injustice, and that, itself, is my only objective. It is my way of saying that I accept that I am powerless to change the outcome, as this cold machinery of death grinds its gears.

For now, though, I sit in this solitary cell. Twenty-days to my date with death doesn't seem to be that long, and yet I find it to be way too much time. I find myself trying to pull up the memories of the life I once had so long ago, as a means of escaping the thoughts of my relatively imminent death.

But try as I might, like the invisible force of a blackhole slowly consuming the universe around it, I am pulled in again and again, dragged back to envisioning what that last moment of my life will be - and what my last words will be.

Part of me wants to put all I can into a concise statement that will be something to remember. But no matter what I try to say it, I imagine it will be forgotten. Nobody's coming to witness my execution to hear what I have to say. They’re coming to watch me die.

I think a lot about the young woman's family. They lost their daughter and, through all these years, have believed that I was the one who took her life. Their need to seek justice can only be satisfied with my death. This has given them the strength to cope with their loss. But I didn't kill their daughter. 

I've prayed for them, that they might find the strength to forgive - not because the person responsible for taking the life of their daughter is worthy of their forgiveness, but because carrying around that much hate towards any other person for so long is like a cancer that will eat at their own soul.

Maybe my death will bring them peace and, if it does, then I can go knowing that there was a purpose in all of this.

Years ago, I tried to reach out to them, to explain the circumstances that transpired that night, and how much I wished I could take their pain away. Their response was to contact the prison - they found it offensive that I wrote them and demanded the prison punish me.

But still, as the years have passed, I’ve kept them in my prayers, wishing that I could turn back the hands of time and change it all. I do that a lot, escaping the reality of this place by picking my memories apart and trying to identify that one point in time, so long ago, where it all went off the tracks. 

Maybe I should use my last words to ask for their forgiveness, even though I didn't kill their daughter. Maybe they need that. Then again, maybe their need for vengeance has consumed so much of them that they cannot forgive under any circumstances, and anything I may attempt to say to them at that time would only make them suffer more. I don't want to bring any more pain into their lives. I wish I could take all their pain away. My death won't accomplish that. Only they can make that decision to let it go.

Then there's my family. They've committed no crime, but they've suffered just as much. They will stand by helplessly as their son, their father, their brother, and their best friend, is put to death for a crime that they know I am innocent of. 

Those in my life who have been there for me through the years have been the “Wind Beneath My Wings”; nurturing my hope and sustaining my strength. I have been so incredibly blessed by these who sacrificed so much to be a part of my life. I know it has not been easy. They have suffered along with me, at every setback, and felt the pain of injustice with each appeal denied.

Most families quickly fade away, and all but forget you once you cross over to that death row life. And, as the years passed, there's been times that my family did too. But we always were drawn back together, and are now stronger than we've ever been. Having to go through this Death Watch process and endure our last visit will cause them so much pain.

Maybe my last words should be to tell them how much it has meant to me to have them in my life. 

Not only my family, including my children, but also the small group of friends, spread out across the world, that have been there for me.

What would I say? What few words could possibly convey what I feel in my heart?? When they visit, at each visit I hug them like I never would let them go. Like I knew that this day might come.

I can no longer hug them. Once my execution date was set, my contact visits were immediately terminated and restricted to non-contact. They still come, now more frequently, driving many hours, even through the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, to spend a few hours of communion with me. We talk, and I try to make them laugh, but I can see in my mother’s and my sister’s eyes how hard this is for them.

There are the moments of silence, when I see the tears forming in their eyes, and I quickly work to find something to talk about, to get their minds off what lies ahead.

They are worried about my health, fearing that this hunger strike will only cause me to suffer more. Just as with the Warden, I patiently explain why I feel I must do this. But nothing I say is enough to comfort them. They beg me to eat. They are allowed to purchase sandwiches and snacks from the prison canteen, which the guard will then bring around to me. But I  refuse, and then they refuse to eat too.

I explain that they do not have to worry. The nurses check on me each day, taking my weight and blood pressure. As of today, I've only lost 17-pounds - and, truth be told, I really needed to lose some weight anyways. 

When I return to my Death Watch cell, I lay down and put my MP3 player on, and then relive every moment of the visit to prolong it, as if it never had to end. But my moment of meditation is broken, as someone on the floor above me is kicking at his solid steel door.

I get back up, and look at the pile of old cards and letters I've stacked against the wall of my cell. As the days pass, I slowly go through them, rip them up and throw them away. Some I've had for many years, some not as long. But each was saved in the very limited room I'm allowed for storage of personal property for a reason. And now, I find myself destroying the things that I treasured the most. 

I must do this before I'm placed on “Phase II”, and all my property is removed from my cell to ensure that I cannot cheat the state out of its intended act of murder by committing suicide. I still cannot destroy so many. And the stack of what means too much to throw away soon grows high. I've accomplished nothing.

The pictures are much harder. In my world, it's the photos of the smiling faces of those you love that keep you going. And photos of the past, of family and of my children, and of my grandchildren.

I go through them one-by-one, remembering each as if I just received it yesterday and, in the end, I throw very few away. A few years back, I lost all my pictures, so what few I have left are part of me and I cannot bear to toss away the memories reflected. Many are of visits I've had, and each photo allows me to think of that special day.

Try as I might to think of other things, that one thought keeps pulling me back - my last words. I find myself becoming consumed. What will I say?

I think of my spiritual advisor of many years, a man who gave up a successful career in law to become a Catholic lay minister devoted to Death Row prison ministry. Dale Recinella has visited me more times than I can begin to count, and is family too.

Before me, he has been there for many others, patiently listening to their words and offering an inspiration of spiritual comfort. When my day comes, he will be here. Contrary to movies, they will not allow him to walk with me into the execution chamber. But he will share time with me in the hours before my execution is carried out, and they will allow him to join the panel of witnesses to watch my execution.

He has witnessed many executions of those he has come to know and provided spiritual comfort to; not only us in our final hours, but to our families too. (Dale Recinella has written numerous books relating to his death row ministry that can be found at www.Iwasinprison.com)

Although long disillusioned by what contemporary Christianity has become and those who claim to be Christian, I have never doubted my spiritual faith. I find strength in it. 

So, when that final moment is upon me, and the opportunity to express what will be my last words I will ever utter in this life arrives, maybe I will say the Lord's Prayer. Nothing I could come up with could possibly be more profound than that. 

I sit silently at the edge of my bunk and look outside the window on the other side of the cell bars. Not more than ten-feet from where I sit, the green grass of a lawn that stretches from that window to the distant perimeter fence begins. A few days ago, a lawn mower outside that window came so close that I could smell its distinct exhaust.

I can smell the grass. Only a few feet away in another direction, the execution chamber patiently awaits me. I can close my eyes and imagine laying out on that grass - preferably at night, so that I can see the heavens above and count the stars, and, if by chance a shooting star passes, even make my wish.

Maybe I won't die. That's the thing about being down here and facing that date with death. As each day draws to a close, you find yourself thinking about how these are your final days, your final hours, and your final minutes. It becomes real. No matter how much you try to think of anything else, you cannot escape those persistent thoughts that this won't end well. 

I've been down on Death Watch now for two weeks, and I have less than three weeks to go. So far, my lawyers haven't been able to do anything to stop my execution. Hurricane Irma (what they are now saying is the worst hurricane in Florida's history) shut everything down across the state, including my lawyers’ offices and the courts.

I talked with them yesterday, finally, but they can't get up to visit me until next week. By then, we will have two weeks left. That clock continues to tick. This time is lost forever.

I've already had numerous appeals pending. The two still before the United States Supreme Court could even result in my exoneration and release, if only the court would grant a review. But that's a long shot. I know, only too well, that the Supreme Court only looks at a handful of cases of the many thousands filed each year.

My lawyers continue to believe that the most favorable issue is the challenge to my illegally imposed sentences of death. The jury did not unanimously vote to sentence me to death. But, by marginal vote, the Florida Supreme Court decided that only those illegally sentenced after June 2002 would be allowed relief, and that those, such as myself (and almost 200 others), sentenced to death prior to June 2002, are still to be executed.

If the Supreme Court agrees with my lawyers, that this is unconstitutionally “arbitrary” and that my death sentences must be vacated, then I would have my sentences reduced to “life” and become, almost immediately, eligible for parole. 

I struggle to keep that hope alive. I don't have faith in the court doing the right thing.

Maybe that's just what I should tell them, as they so deliberately put me to death for a crime that I did not commit. I should tell them that they are committing an act of murder, and quote Socrates by saying “To which of us go the worst fate, you or I?” And then breathe my last breath.


Michael Lambrix was executed
by the State of Florida on October 5, 2017

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

In tears. Heartwrenching how cruel this world has become. They won't kill you in my name. Prayers for you Michael. God be with you.

Diane Shubert said...

I know you typists to this blog are doing the best you can but I would like to know if there are more up-to-date writings from Michael. The last update we got from him was in the middle of September and we have not heard anything since then. I just am interested in how his last three weeks went and I'm concerned for his mental and physical health. I have followed Michael for a number of years and would just like to know if there are any more current updates? If not then thank you for keeping us up-to-date as much as possible about this horrible horrible countdown that he has had to endure.

lani lucena said...

Absolutely heart breaking.

Anonymous said...

RIP Michael. I hope you finally find peace. Be Well, Ken

Anonymous said...

RIP Michael.

Give the death penalty to the death penalty.

Jenneke said...

I was so hoping for a stay. I don't know whether this man was guilty or innocent, but this is never right. I read he said the Lords' prayer as his final words as he wrote here he might do. If there is a life after this one I hope he is well and truly free. Rest in peace and I wish his family strength and comfort.

Joe said...

This execution really sickens me.

The supreme court ruled that it is unconstitutional to execute someone whose execution was not unanimously recommended by a jury;they did not rule that it is unconstitutional to execute someone whose execution was not unanimously recommended by the jury after 2001.

If it is unconstitutional to execute someone whose execution was not unanimously recommended by the jury, it's unconstitutional regardless of the year that unconstitutional sentence was issued.

Can someone explain to me what the theoretic legal basis of the 2002 cutoff?

I would think that regardless of what one thinks about Mike's innocence claims or the death penalty, we can all agree that the notion that if death sentences handed down without a unanimous jury recommendation are unconstitutional and illegitimate, the year in which that sentence was handed down should be completely irrelevant.

It's like arguing that it is unconstitutional to sentence someone to death without a unanimous jury recommendation, but only if the sentence was handed down on an odd numbered day of a month.

This is sheer madness.

Snej said...

I will never forget this. Never.
I hoped too.
Michael was so much a real man - a whole human being: thinking, feeling, fighting.
Growing up and making us grow up as well...

You live in a horrible place...

RIP Michael. Peace and strength to your family.

Snej

A Friend said...

Thank you all for your comments and support. You and your kind thoughts are greatly appreciated. Diane, in answer to your question, we do have more essays from Mike, as he wrote prolifically in his final weeks. You are correct that it takes some time for us to get the writing ready to post and it also typically takes a week or more for the writings to arrive by mail, so there are inevitable delays. We focused on posting the most urgent and relevant of Mike's essays as quickly as possible. Even though Mike is gone now, the rest will be published in upcoming months. Thanks again for your support of Mike and of Minutes Before Six.

Anonymous said...

I do not believe every single person involved in this mans case was wrong and he was right. 30 years of appeals. 30 years.No stone was left unturned in trying to find some semblance of him being innocent. Why didn't he shout it from the rafters the first second he was accused of murdering two people. Why did his plea of self defense come years later?


Read between the lines of his words to the family of Ms. Bryant. Saying he hopes his death gives them some sort of comfort?

Come on now.Any sane person would be relentless in their pursuit in making sure everyone knew they were innocent from the get go. No way would a sane person NOT be extremely persistent in their self defense plea to the courts and family. The Lords prayer were his last words? The last words should have been ''I AM INNOCENT. I ACTED IN SELF DEFENSE AND IN ABOUT TEN MINUTES I WLL BE IN HEAVEN, YOU ALL HAVE MADE A HUGE MISTAKE''. And it would take a team of horses to stop any innocent person from just laying down and having letting people kill you. Sure you would lose however not without a huge fight.
Be assured it would have made even the guards holding him down think about what they are a part of is indeed right. Let alone the people behind the glass.

Lambrix may have been a pathological liar and found some sort of avenue to go down and trained himself to believe for whatever reason that he indeed was acting in self defense after one of the victims already killed his girlfriend. A thought in the commission of the crime that he watered like a seed to eventually believe himself.

The mind is very complex and can be trained. You can say something a million times over and over and eventually you might be able to believe it. This is why Polygraph Testing is inadmissible in court. It is proven that people can fool it.

I understand how his followers/friends grew attached to this man. He was caged and inherently no one wants to see anyone suffer. However did any one of these people (family not included) know him when back in 1983? I doubt it. You can take it to the bank that he was NOT the kind of individual who these good people would have wanted to be around. Time behind bars changes people. Read about phycological effects on incarceration. It can be very humbling.

If Lambrix was indeed innocent than I would bet GOD is taking wonderful care of him and bestowing him with countless goodness.

If Lambrix was indeed guilty than I would bet GOD is not to pleased ,especially with him bull -------g so many good people.

Heather said...

How high the real number of innocent inmates on DR in the US since 1973 - some of whom assuredly put to death – we’ll never know.
We do know 159 have been exonerated since 1973 – and guess what? Florida leads the pack with 27 exonerees in that time – more than double the number in Texas. It’s hard to comment on that. It could be the Courts in Florida are more prone to mistakes – or are they better at finding the mistakes once made? Whatever the reason for the highest numbers of innocent people ending up on Death Row in Florida, it brings little comfort. The legal system should be seriously worried by their grim record. But are they? At any rate, that’s a lot of mistakes on conviction and but for incredible luck the 159 wouldn’t have made it.
I say luck because whether or not an inmate gets the appropriate legal help and relief from the Courts is a lottery and like any lottery there are few who get the big prizes. It’s entirely arbitrary, as in Mike Lambrix’s case. He’s been in prison too long – past the cut-off point of 2002 ? - so dang let’s just execute him. There are ways of twisting facts that make those who don’t look too closely believe he’s been given a fair go – but look again and you see Mike has been ‘murdered’ by an uncaring, cruel and arbitrary system. Without a full and coherent review of his case, he should not have been executed after 34 years imprisonment, since just one of the several serious issues concerning his conviction, that needed to be addressed, rested on evidence any fair-mined person would consider untrustworthy.
Florida isn’t safer now Mike is dead – it’s all the poorer for having killed a person loved by his family and called “friend” by many. He was fearless in his criticism of the Florida system driven by political greed. And he was a proud man (he wouldn’t take a deal because he believed truth would win out) and perhaps that was his biggest mistake.
Rest in Peace, Mike.
Your friend,
Heather

feministe said...

I've followed this case for more than six years, and I have not yet read all of Mike's trial transcripts on his Southern Injustice website, although I intend to. I've read every single blog he's ever written for MB6, Doing Life on Death Row, and Death Row Journals (the latter two are his blogs.) Based on that extensive review, right now my best guess is that Mike was in fact responsible for the murders of which he was convicted--or the self-defense story would have emerged and featured prominently at his first trial. I do think that he repeated it to himself so many times he eventually largely convinced himself that he was innocent. But I think that he fashioned an innocence story that was plausible but improvable. For instance, he insisted at length that DNA testing would prove that he did not kill the female victim - that she had been choked or strangled to death by the male victim. Yet in a recent version of what happened the night of the crime, he conveniently maintained that he had administered CPR to the victim - great cover in the event that any DNA testing was done - he knew that it would link him intimately to her body that night. While I will review the balance of the materials on Southern Injustice to see whether there is something I have missed, I have never read anything in Mike's many writings about the night of the crime that explains why, exactly, he was compelled to engage with the male victim "in self-defense" rather than to retreat and call 911 (since by his own account he was in his trailer when, allegedly, the male victim began beating the female victim) or why he used more force than necessary to incapacitate the male victim (if, indeed, the male victim was acting violently - which we have only Mike's word to go on). And of course, if you inadvertently kill someone and are innocent of murder, it's not best practices to bury two bodies and simply neglect to mention the affair to law enforcement until they arrest you.

The thing about Mike is that he was very articulate, and that fostered a great deal of sympathy for him--particularly from the tender-hearted Europeans who take every opportunity they can find to condemn the U.S. justice system. And indeed, I don't believe Mike should have been executed - not because he was innocent, not because he deserved not to be executed - but because I think that executions exact an intolerable price from the innocent: from the state employees directed to participate in taking life, to the innocent family members of the condemned defendant, to the condemned's legal team, jurors, and others who are forced to participate in the process of taking a life and/or unnecessarily traumatized by protracted exposure to a capital crime in the decades after execution.

Mike noted at his final press conference that he expected his writings to become part of the societal record on the death penalty--to allow future generations to understand how the death penalty functioned in society, after the practice has ended. I agree. I think his writings are an important part of the historical record, and serve an important function in allowing the current generation - and future generations - to understand what prisoners on death row experience. I will certainly read any further writings of his that this blog may posthumously publish. But I admit to deep skepticism about Mike himself - his unsubstantiated and unverifiable claims of innocence that surfaced too far after trial, and after too incriminating a pattern of criminal behavior. And I'm concerned about the significant toll that his interminable (and ultimately, according to the courts, meritless) appeals exacted on our justice system, consuming resources that might otherwise have been dedicated to hearing the claims of inmates who are innocent or otherwise have truly worthy claims.

Anonymous said...

I personally don't believe in this guys innocence. However I do find the way the state keeps DRP on death row with uncertainty surrounding their death date, go as far as to torture them with the possibility of last minute stays of execution, to be cruel and unusual. Inhumane. Lambrix's case, articulated well in his blogs, is a sobering example. They are mentally torturing the prisoners for decades, which to me is more troubling than the ethics of capital punishment.

Jackbob99 said...

He wasn't even close to innocent and deserved no sympathy for what he did to those two people. He murdered them over a car. But he did do a good job of begging for sympathy when he didn't need it.

If he weren't guilty, then why did he change his story about what happened that night?

Anonymous said...

I don't believe his claim of innocence, either. He lived 34 years longer than his victims. I'm praying for the peace of both his family and his victims' families. This is a horrible thing they all had to live through.

Anonymous said...

Jackbob.....he did try his best to make US feel bad about what HE had done. According to Lambrix the whole entire system was corrupt and against him, everyone, including his girlfriend at the time.
I do agree that 34 years on the Row is rediculous but that doesn't make him innocent.

urban ranger said...

feminist said above:
"Based on that extensive review, right now my best guess is that Mike was in fact responsible for the murders of which he was convicted--or the self-defense story would have emerged and featured prominently at his first trial. I do think that he repeated it to himself so many times he eventually largely convinced himself that he was innocent."
~ ~ ~
I agree. All of us frame and reframe the past, usually coming up with the story that best fits our needs.
Whatever the 'truth', it was a long sad journey for Michael Lambrix. May he rest in peace.

Joe said...

I agree with those expressing skepticism about Mike's innocence claims.

In the final analysis we don't know what actually happened that night but feministe's analysis strikes me as overall a more plausible account than Mike's.

Mike's guilt or innocence however is irrelevant to me as an opponent of the death penalty.

The thing that bothers me the most about this particular execution is that apparently arbitrary 2002 cutoff. I think it's outrageous the the courts could rule that a death sentence not unanimously recommended by jury is unconstitutional before 2002 but OK after.

I am open the possibility that there may be a reasonable justification for the apparently arbitrary 2002 cutoff and have asked for anyone aware of the legal theory behind this to explain it to me but have yet to get an answer.

In general, I think one big problem with the death penalty abolitionist movement is that all too often, instead of sticking to the good arguments against the death penalty, it morphs into supporting the (often dubious) innocence claims of those on the row.

This is very misguided for several reasons.

For one, it shifts the focus from the matter of why the death penalty is wrong to the idea that an innocent person is going to be executed.

Obviously, the fact that an innocent person can end up on death row is a travesty, and the fact that there have almost certainly been innocent people executed is one of the most horrific aspects of capital punishment.

But even the most die hard proponent of the death penalty would agree that innocent people should not be executed.

The hard battle to be won here is convincing the general public that even the most vile, loathsome, monstrous, and obviously guilty offenders sentenced to death should not be executed.

THAT is the relevant point, and it gets lost in the noise when death penalty abolitionists kneejerkedly and uncritically accept even the most implausible innocence claims of the condemned when their execution is imminent.

Even when their innocence isn't championed, they are typically nonetheless spoken about as though they are noble martyrs (consider for example the deferential way Ray Hill and the Execution Watch team talked to and about the serial killing child slaughterer Tommy Lynn Sells on the eve of his execution; it's ridiculous).

The fact that the death penalty is wrong doesn't mean those sentenced to death are good.

Mike Lambrix probably did what he was sentenced to death for.

But I still think it was wrong to execute him.

The anti-death penalty movement seriously needs to get away from this tired old reflex of kneejerkedly presenting those condemned to death as innocent noble victims.

The vast majority of those on the the did what they were convicted of.

These personalities shouldn't be out focus; the focus needs to be in the reasons why the death penalty is wrong and ought to be abandoned.

Now, the matter of innocent people in death row is obviously a very important and pressing matter, but it's a separate and/or subset of the main issue here, which is the fact that the death penalty is always wrong, even when (as in the vast majority of cases), the condemned did what they were convicted of.

rabbitholedigger said...

Good points above.

I'm not necessarily against the death penalty, but I'm definitely against how America does it.

As for inmates claiming they are innocent. I wonder what people expect from them. Casting doubt over their crime is often the only way they can save their life. There's very few of them who admit guilt. When they do it's usually because the evidence against them is overwhelming. And typically it doesn't win them any respect or sympathy from those on the outside. People call them manipulators or say their remorse is fake. Which might in some cases be true. However, the point remains that a person on death row has very little to gain by admitting they are guilty and expressing remorse.