Executions · Famous Last Words · Illinois

FLW: the state gains nothing while the executed gains eternal life

Famous Last Words
Ernest Wishon
Illinois
November 26, 1943

(In a note left to the Warden:) “By my death, the state will gain nothing, while I will gain eternal life.”

Wishon, an alcoholic and former drug addict, killed an elderly jewelry store owner during a robbery. At his trial, the jury found him guilty but suggested a term of 199 years, taking pity on his current and former addiction to alcohol and drugs respectively. The Assistant State’s Attorneys, however, demanded the death penalty and the jury relented to their demand. Wishon addressed the jury at time of his sentence saying “ladies and gentlemen, regardless of your verdict there is no ill feeling on my part. You were told that your conscience would bother you if you returned the death penalty. I hope not.” Later he told jail officers “I wasn’t surprised by the verdict. I had it coming.”

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