The Final Meal Of Killer Karla Faye Tucker

Karla Faye Tucker never denied that she committed murder. Oh, she pleaded not guilty when brought to trial, but only at the insistence of her lawyers, she later told Larry King for CNN. She admitted to everything on the witness stand, in subsequent interviews, and to friends and family as documented by the Texas attorney general's office (via Death Penalty USA); her intent, with Danny Garrett, to intimidate and rob an acquaintance on June 13, 1983, her killing the man with a pickaxe and getting a sexual thrill from the assault, and the additional murder of a woman they didn't know who had the misfortune to be in the apartment.

Tucker told King that she didn't want to rationalize or excuse her crimes, but she felt they were an inevitable consequence of her life up to that time. Born of an extramarital affair to a crumbling family (per Crime Library), Tucker fell into drug use at age 10 and was led by her own mother into prostitution at 14. At 23 years old in 1983, she and Garrett were both high on a number of substances when they committed their murders. "In the state of mind that I was in back then, nothing really mattered to me, nothing," she told King in 1998, describing the killings as being like something she read in a book.

Tucker's last meal was a simple one

Karla Faye Tucker was sentenced to death by lethal injection on April 25, 1984, but her day of execution wouldn't come for almost 15 years. Three months into her time on death row, Tucker stole a Bible and, through it, became a convert to Christianity. It was a conversion, Texas Monthly reported, that was aided by the break prison gave her from the drugs and sex that had been such a large part of her life up until then.

Tucker's commitment to religion and her remorse for her actions seemed genuine; death penalty abolitionist Sister Helen Prejean wrote in The New York Review of Books that all the prison officers who knew Tucker considered her a "model prisoner." As the date of her execution approached in 1998, her faith and her gender won international support for her commutation. Pope John Paul II himself weighed in on her behalf (per CNN), as did the brother of the woman Tucker had helped kill. But Texas governor George W. Bush would not commute Tucker's sentence.

On February 3, 1998, the 38-year-old Tucker ate her last meal. Per the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, she asked for a banana, a peach, and a garden salad with ranch dressing. Neal Auch, who later did a still-life photo of her meal as part of a series, found it a simple request compared to the typical extravagant meals many death row inmates ask for. Her meal done, Tucker was strapped down, said her final farewells, and received her injections. Per The Washington Post, she was pronounced dead at 6:45 PM.