A convicted double murderer in Texas is holding a joke contest on the Internet so he can use the winning entry as his last words when he is sentenced to die by lethal injection on June 26.
"I'll be enjoying my last days on this earth ... I am asking you to spread the word that I am holding a contest. I want people to send me their best jokes, to keep me and the others with (execution) dates laughing!" Patrick Knight, 39, told CNN yesterday in an interview from his prison.
Convicted of murdering two neighbours in 1991, Knight has spent the last 16 years on death row in Texas, the state that accounts for more than one third of all US executions since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976.
Relaxed and cracking jokes, Knight got all serious when he explained why death row needed an injection of humor.
"We have a situation back there where you have guys that are actually innocent -- I'm not one of them ... Jokes are needed back there, something to ease the tension."
However, Knight betrayed no tension when he said, "Death is my punishment, I've accepted that, that's what's gonna happen. If you got to go, go with a smile."
The idea for a contest, he said came from reading "Dead Man Walking," a book on capital punishment by Helen Prejean, a Roman Catholic nun and advocate for the abolition of the death penalty, which was turned into a Hollywood movie starring Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon.
So Knight, tongue in cheek, titled his webpage on the Internet, "Dead Man Laughing."
Knight promised to read the winning entry out loud when he is asked for his last statement before he is put to death next June 26.