By Jim Forsyth from Reuters
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Reuters) - A Texas man scheduled to be executed on Tuesday wants to die laughing.
Patrick Knight, 39, has been soliciting jokes on the Internet and plans to tell one of them before receiving a lethal injection, Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons said on Monday.
"He says he wants to keep his execution light," she said.
Knight was sentenced to die for the August 1991 murder of his two elderly neighbors in Amarillo, Texas.
Lyons said a friend of Knight's set up a page on the social networking Web site MySpace.com to solicit jokes, and "hundreds" of suggestions have arrived in the mail.
"I'll be enjoying my last days on Earth," Knight wrote on the Web site. "I'm not asking for pen pals, but I'm asking you to spread the word that I am holding a contest. I want people to send me their best jokes, and to keep me and others with (execution) dates laughing."
Texas leads the nation with 396 executions. None of those put to death have ever joked about it, Lyons said.
"We've certainly had some people who have recited a poem or a Bible verse, some people who have asked forgiveness or who pray," she said. "This is, to my knowledge, the first time anybody has told a joke as their last words."
While she says Knight will be allowed to tell his joke, none of his executioners in the state death chamber at the Walls prison unit in Huntsville, Texas will be laughing, Lyons said.
"Everybody who is there takes it very seriously and will not be participating in the joke," she said. "So knock-knock jokes are out."Your laugh won't last very long, Knight.... I wish I could advise you to put your search to something of far greater worth.