Death Row Inmate's Last Words Were an Insult

'You can kiss my white trash ass'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2017 11:17 AM CDT
Death Row Inmate's Last Words Were an Insult
In this undated photo released by the Georgia Department of Corrections, JW Ledford Jr. is shown.   (Georgia Department of Corrections via AP)

When asked if he had any final words before his execution in Georgia early Wednesday, JW Ledford Jr. did. But those words weren't an apology or a goodbye; rather, they were a taunt, ABC News reports. The 45-year-old, who murdered his 73-year-old neighbor in 1992, smiled as he tossed out a slightly paraphrased quote from Cool Hand Luke: "What we have here is a failure to communicate. Some men you just can't reach." He went on: "I am not the failure. You are the failure to communicate. You can kiss my white trash ass." His microphone was shut off at that point, though he began speaking again. He was dead by lethal injection shortly thereafter.

Ledford fatally stabbed his neighbor, Dr. Harry Johnston—the man who had actually delivered Ledford as a baby, the BBC reports—in his home before lifting money, guns, and a vehicle from the home and threatening Johnston's wife and tying her up. He told police he had gone to the house to ask for a ride, and lashed out after Johnston accused him of stealing and hit him. His lawyers had asked for clemency, arguing that he had an intellectual disability, had gone through a difficult childhood, and struggled with substance abuse from an early age, but that request was denied Monday. Ledford's execution was the first carried out in Georgia this year. (More execution stories.)

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