Johnny Frank Garrett

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Ellis Unit, where Garrett was held on death row
Huntsville Unit, where Garrett was put to death

Johnny Frank Garrett (December 24, 1963 – February 11, 1992) was a death row prisoner executed by the State of Texas.[1]

Murder of Benz[edit]

Garrett was accused of the murder of a Catholic nun that took place on October 31, 1981, when he was 17 years old.[1] According to the prosecution, that morning, Garrett raped, strangled, and killed 76-year-old Sister Tadea Benz in the St. Francis Convent. On November 9, 1981, Garrett, who lived across the street from the convent, was arrested.

Trial and execution[edit]

Garrett was tried and convicted of the crime.[2] He was held at Ellis Unit, north of Huntsville, Texas, which at the time held men on the State of Texas's death row.[3] He was originally scheduled to be executed on January 6, 1992, but after Pope John Paul II asked for clemency, Governor of Texas Ann Richards gave him a temporary reprieve. After Richards's reprieve, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles held a hearing on whether Garrett should receive a commutation to life in prison but the death sentence was retained by a 17 to 1 vote. He was examined by Dr. Dorothy Otnow Lewis, who determined he had multiple personalities as a result of child abuse from his mother, grandmother, and grandfather. He was ultimately executed at age 28 at Huntsville Unit on February 11, 1992 by lethal injection.[4][1]

His final meal request was ice cream.[5] The TDCJ website has stated since at least 2012 that "this offender declined to make a last statement."[6] However, there are last words of Garrett reported from the time of execution re-quoted frequently, and reported by APBnews as: "I'd like to thank my family for loving me and taking care of me. The rest of the world can kiss my ass."[7][8][verify]

Director Jesse Quackenbush, a man from Albany, New York who graduated from the University of Houston Law School in 1987 and, that year, moved to Amarillo, made the documentary The Last Word which argues that Garrett was in fact innocent of the crime. He argued that Garrett was the victim of overzealous prosecutors and poor defense attorneys.[2] It was adapted into the semi-fictional horror film Johnny Frank Garrett's Last Word.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Johnny Frank Garrett – Offender Information". Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Death Row Information. 1982-12-15. Retrieved 2016-04-01. Includes scan of original inmate record cover page.
  2. ^ a b Phillips, Aaron (August 10, 2008). "'The Last Word': A film by Jesse Quackenbush Documentary seeks truth". Amarillo Globe-News. Retrieved April 1, 2016.
  3. ^ "Death Row Facts". Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Death Row Facts. March 6, 2007. Archived from the original on August 6, 2009. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
  4. ^ "Texas Executes Killer Of A Nun". The New York Times. Associated Press. February 12, 1992. Retrieved April 1, 2016.
  5. ^ "Final Meal Requests". Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Death Row Information. September 12, 2003. Archived from the original on December 2, 2003. Retrieved November 22, 2007. Note that Texas ceased offering Last Meals in September 2011.
  6. ^ "Executed Offenders". Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Death Row Information. 2017-12-15. Retrieved 2017-01-14. See also 2012 TDCJ site.
  7. ^ Phillips, Robert Anthony (January 12, 2000). "Those Who Died for Juvenile Crimes". APB News. Archived from the original on 2002-02-09. was a criminal-justice-centered newsmagazine whose journalistic standards were respected by The New York Times.
  8. ^ The quotation with additional words – "everloving" and "because I'm innocent" – is presented without additional verification in The Last Word Archived 2016-04-13 at the Wayback Machine (2008 film) by Jesse Quackenbush; Wrongfully Accused #2 (2013 book) by William Webb; and in Let the People in: The Life and Times of Ann Richards (2012 biography) by Jan Reid.
  9. ^ Harvey, Dennis (March 15, 2016). "SXSW Film Review: 'Johnny Frank Garrett's Last Word'". Variety. Retrieved March 22, 2016.