By Frank Sennett
DECEMBER 1, 1997: What food is best washed down with a lethal injection? For killer Durlyn Eddmonds, executed in Joliet early on the morning of November 20, the answer was macaroni and cheese, fried chicken and apple pie. Fellow condemned man Walter Stewart submitted an order for "southern-fried pork chops, Tabasco sauce, candied yams, string beans, black-eyed peas, pan-fried-hot-water cornbread patties, peach cobbler and papaya-orange juice."
Death-row inmates in Illinois don't have to eat the cafeteria chow before walking the final mile. As long as they order "something within reason," says Department of Corrections spokesman Nic Howell, "we're not adverse to going out to McDonald's if you've got to have a Quarter Pounder."
"You may want lobster and all we've got is shrimp, but we do what we can," Howell says.
Alcohol is always forbidden, but prisoners are invited to smoke 'em if they've got 'em. They might even enjoy some high-level company out in the yard. The night John Wayne Gacy was executed, for instance, "we swapped cigars after his final meal," Howell recalls.
"He gave me one of his, and I gave him one of mine" about seven hours before Gacy died. "It probably wasn't the last cigar he smoked, but it was the last one I smoked with him."
Perhaps fittingly, last-meal requests in Illinois have been heavy on comfort food throughout the nineties, according to the Department of Corrections.
Here's a sampling of the fare you might expect to be served by the state should you run seriously afoul of the law:
Charles Walker, executed September 12, 1990, dined on fried rabbit, gravy made from the drippings, biscuits, blackberry cobbler and whipped cream.
The cigar-chomping Gacy, executed May 10, 1994, pigged out on shrimp, Kentucky Fried Chicken and French fries.
James P. Free Jr., executed March 22, 1995, ordered shrimp, strawberry cheesecake, fries and Mountain Dew.
Hernando Williams, executed with Free, was a bit less picky, requesting "any kind of seafood."
Charles Albanese, executed September 20, 1995, scarfed down prime rib, a baked potato, garlic bread, coffee, Coke and pistachio ice cream.
George Delvecchio, executed November 11, 1995, enjoyed a near-Thanksgiving feast of medium-well filet mignon with mushrooms, shellfish, baked potato with sour cream, brussel sprouts, salad with Italian dressing, corn on the cob, pistachio ice cream and cannoli.
Raymond Stewart, executed September 18, 1996, ate fried perch, potato salad, cole slaw and peaches.
Only Girvies Davis, executed May 17, 1995, skipped his last meal, opting instead to get his just desserts.
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