Some of the most notorious criminals have had interesting choices when it comes to their last meals. For example, serial killer Ted Bundy who confessed to 30 out of who-knows-how-many murders, declined a special meal and received what is usually served to other death row inmates in Florida, but didn’t even touch his food. Even more strange was Timothy McVeigh, the man behind the Oklahoma City bombing in 1993, who asked for two pints of ice cream in the flavor of mint chocolate chip.
However, for this Tennessee death row inmate, he ultimately declined his last meal and instead requested that the homeless be fed instead.
This inmate, Don Johnson, was executed just recently for the conviction of murdering his wife in 1984. That night he requested a vegetarian pizza be sent to the homeless, foregoing his final meal.
Johnson was inspired by one of his jail friends, Phillip Workman, who was executed in 2007 says Johnson’s attorney, Nashville public defender, Kelley Henry. Workman wished to donate a vegetarian pizza in replacement of his last meal, but Henry mentions that through the Tennessee Department of Correction, that was not logistically possible.
The Tennessee Department of Correction’s released statement noted Johnson chose not to select a special last meal and that they would give him the same menu other offenders at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution had. However, they didn’t mention his actual wish of donating a vegetarian pizza to the homeless as, according to Henry, it was against their policies.
While in prison, Johnson became an ordained Seventh-Day Adventist elder and his supporters are following in his footsteps to feed the homeless.
A prayer service will take place on the day when the execution is scheduled. This statement was taken from the Riverside Chapel Seventh-Day Adventist Church’s senior pastor, Furmam Fordham, who also ordained Johnson.
Johnson was executed by lethal injection, as confirmed by Henry.
Fordham further added that he has been telling members to give Kroger gift cards in support of their plan to fulfill Johnson’s request by holding a community memorial dinner, where they will be feeding the homeless. The idea was inspired by the $20 donation Johnson wanted to make since $20 is usually the allotted budget for a death row inmate’s last meal.
The Tennessean reported Johnson’s murder of his wife, Connie Johnson in 1984, where he suffocated her by stuffing a 30-gallon trash bag down her throat.
Johnson admitted his moral and criminal responsibility for the murder of his wife, Henry stated, and in the decades he spent on death row, he found religion.
Henry further added that Johnson was a man who found redemption and forgiveness and was strong in his faith. He found peace and was doing his best to comfort his supporters.
Johnson had also addressed a letter to his children and his wife’s relatives, upon the denial of his clemency request by Gov. Bill Lee, the letter was said to have been released publicly. It wasn’t confirmed though, if it was sent directly to the intended people.
In the letter Johnson asked for their forgiveness in regards to the pain he has caused them and many others in his life. He further stated in his letter that he realized the monster he had become and how he sought the Lord to bring him back up from the bottom of the barrel.
Jason Johnson, his son, spoke publicly against his father saying it was never about faith and that he was doing anything to save his own neck. On the other hand, his stepdaughter Cynthia Vaugh, whose mother was the late Connie Johnson, has forgiven him.
Another death row inmate also convicted of murder, Michael Samra, was also executed on Thursday evening. According to The Death Penalty Information Center, Johnson was the sixth person in the country to be executed this year, and the first this year in Tennessee.