My name is Joseph Mitchell Parsons and I am dead. On October 15, 1999 I was executed by the State of Utah. My crime was killing a man who put me in a position in which my reactions overwhelmed my good sense. It is said I "murdered" Richard Ernest but the truth is I "killed" Richard Ernest. Yes, I did overreact to his homosexual advances so I do take some of the responsibility, but not all. If Ernest had not put his hands on me, he would be alive today and so would I . . . then again, fate can be a harsh destiny. A lot has been written about how I never expressed any remorse. The media has portrayed me in numerous articles as cold-blooded. Many false statements and made up facts have been reported by sensationalists. I haven't read one single article that was accurate. The fact is, in retrospect, I do wish I could turn the clock back and change my reaction, and I do regret the anguish I've caused to all those who cared about Richard Ernest. But, know this, I feel no remorse towards Ernest himself as I am dead, in part, because of his actions.If you ask those who know me the idea of me being a cold-blooded murderer is utterly ridiculous. The evidence used to kill me does have inconsistencies and the truth was clouded by indifference. Does a person deserve to die because of a reflex overruling reason? I guess in my case that's a moot point. My death served only one purpose, to quench the thirst of vengeance. To those who rejoice in my demise, I say be careful, bad karma can rebound ten-fold.
There are many who are asking, "why did he drop his appeals and allow himself to be executed?" The answer to that question is simple, "frustration," in the court system and specifically the judges who are so egotistical they blind themselves to the truth. Magistrate Ronald Boyce delayed making a ruling on one phase of my appeals for over "3 1/2" years. My case is not the exception, in Elroy Tillman's death penalty case, Boyce took over "3" years to make his ruling. The majority of society believe the delays in death penalty cases are the fault of those who have the death sentences, but, in reality, it's the judges who are at fault. It's baffling how incompetent some of these judges are. When the realization hit me that no judge was going to rule in my favor I decided to take matters into my own hands. I'm not like some guys who can sit on Death Row for 15 or 20 years living on false hope. I'm also not someone who would play childish games by dropping his appeals to get attention. In other words, I am not Ronnie Lee Gardner. After being here, in the Utah State Prison, for over "11 1/2" years, I decided to see what's next.
Negative quotes written or said about those with death sentences are by enlarge exaggerated. I wish to say something about the tarnished image of Death Row inmates. Here at the Utah State Prison, for a long time, because of the stupid antics of Ronnie Lee Gardner the rest of Death Row suffered the negative attitude of prison officials. That attitude has changed in the last couple of years. Why, because the fact is the majority of Death Row are model inmates. Yes, our crimes resulted in death sentences but if we act accordingly, following prison rules and regulations then we should be allowed the same justified privileges as other model inmates. Some might say, we should be treated as miserable as possible, even go as far as torture, in that our crimes deserve harsh treatment. Our deaths are not enough for some but that's because those people are not much different than what they perceive us to be. We might be killers or murderers but we are still human beings. To treat us as animals will result in losing ones humanity. Is it worth it? The truth is there are those of us who are not monsters, we do have honor, integrity, and compassion. The problem is most people believe what they read or are told. I'm glad there are open-minded individuals, at the Utah State Prison, who see through the ignorant babble.
I would like to thank Clint Friel, Jerry Pope, Carl Jacobson, Kent DeMill, Eugene Bartell, Don Carpenter, Ron Ortis, Alan Zimmerman, Jason Allison, Aaron Horsely, Darren Ringel, Robert Miller, Roland Senior, Peter Vogl, Louis Poleate, Jeff Hardman, Kevin Arledge, Kirk Moncrief, Curtis McKee, Kim Johnson, Aaron Burdge, Monty Strand, Ron Kelly and the others who's names I've forgotten to mention. Thank you for seeing me as a human being and treating me as such.
Thanks to Greg Sanders for his efforts. I would say thanks to Ron Yengich but I felt it was not earned. To visit me but once, and that was court ordered, in the eight years you were my lawyer is sad.
I am "extremely" grateful to my family who stood by me with unconditional love and support, I've come to learn that family is everything. My mistake was, I learned that lesson too late. All of you, Mom, Eric, Jen, Tony, Dinah, Karen, Johnny, Esther, Olga, Ada, and yes even you Lou helped me in different ways. We missed out on a lot of good times and I'm sorry about that. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your lives. I love you all and am hopeful you will live long, fulfilling lives.Comment on this story
And to Doug Lovell, whom I consider family, your friendship kept me sane. If not for your constant humor I would have dried up and withered away long ago. Take care and good luck. Goodbye for now, for I'm sure our friendship will transcend our recent parting.
To Beverly DeVoy, thank you for letting me voice my final thoughts. I hope I expressed myself in a dignified manner.
Joseph M. Parsons
Editor's note: This is an exact transcript of the letter given by Joseph Mitchell Parsons to the Deseret News.