Johnny Frank Garrett
Johnny Frank Garrett (December 24, 1963 – February 11, 1992) was a death row prisoner executed by the state of Texas.
The state of Texas accused Garrett of committing a murder on October 31, 1981, when he was 17 years old, 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. He was tried and convicted for the crime.
He was held at Ellis Unit, north of Huntsville, Texas, which at the time held men on the State of Texas's death row. 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 pardon 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 nothing vote. He was ultimately executed at age 28 at Huntsville Unit, by lethal injection, on February 11, 1992.
In 2004, a man named Leoncio Rueda was found to have murdered a woman named Narnie Bryson 4 months before Sister Benz was murdered. Police initially suspected the cases were linked due to the similarities (both of them were in the same part of town, both cases had a dark skinned man be witnessed in the area, both of them worked for charities that helped Cuban Refugees, in both cases black curly hairs and bloody shirts were found.) When Rueda was interviewed by an attorney, he said that he had murdered a nun as well.
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. It was adapted into the semifictional horror film Johnny Frank Garrett's Last Word.
- "Johnny Frank Garrett. Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on April 1, 2016.
- Phillips, Aaron. "'The Last Word': A film by Jesse Quackenbush Documentary seeks truth" (Archive). Amarillo Globe-News. Sunday August 10, 2008. Retrieved on April 1, 2016.
- "Death Row Facts." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on May 7, 2010.
- "TEXAS EXECUTES KILLER OF A NUN" (Archive). The New York Times. February 12, 1992. Retrieved on April 1, 2016.
- Harvey, Dennis. "SXSW Film Review: ‘Johnny Frank Garrett’s Last Word’." Variety. March 15, 2016. Retrieved on March 22, 2016.
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