Saturday, February 28, 2015

Burger King, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Elvis Impersonators [Is the correct plural actually Elvi?], and the Justice System Hard at Work

He's for sure a hunk, but I never  ever applied to Emory University for him or for any other reason.
Note: with thanks to Knotty for inspiration

I admit to being a bit of a novice/moron when it comes to true crime and all the protocol surrounding it. My latest question in this regard is just one more piece of evidence that I'm not exactly the younger female counterpart of F. Lee Bailey, although I have a great-uncle who looks so much like the man that it's honest-to-God eerie. 

I do have a bit of experience with the legal system, as I've worked as a paralegal on a few trials. Paralegal certification isn't necessary in many states. As long as an attorney instructs the "paralegal" in proper courtroom protocol to the extent the the "paralegal" doesn't commit some sort of  faux pas to get himself or herself tossed out of the courtroom, the person can go right on being a paralegal to his or her heart's content until the trial ends one way another.

But I'm seriously digressing here. It's a particular case on which I'm obsessing at the moment. Kelly Renee Gissendaner was convicted in the death-for-hire murder and subsequent body burning of her husband and was condemned to death. The big date was finally set for Wednesday, as in three days ago, some eighteen odd years after the original crime. If the photos accompanying the article were any indication of the manner of execution, lethal injection was the method of choice. Then, mere hours before the execution was to take place, it was postponed until Monday, March 2. The reason given for the postponement was, of all things,  inclement weather.

Other than perhaps something like Hurricane Andrew occurring along an extremely low-lying coastal area (like maybe the Zuyderzee) where the execution was to take place, thus endangering the lives of the executioner(s) and/or legally necessary witnesses, precisely why would an execution need to be postponed due to inclement weather? Perhaps the bad weather might make it difficult for either the condemned's choice of witnesses or the victim's advocates to be there. Tough shit in my opinion. They could hear about it later. For that matter, such things are usually, as morbid as it seems to me,  recorded. Anyone that interested could actually see  the state-ordered  killing  later.

Ma. Gissendaner had ordered up quite the proverbial last meal, which included but was not limited to two Burger King Whoppers with cheese  (geez; if it's your last meal; at least request Red Robin or TGI Friday's) with all  customary condiments (which in Georgia may very well include pickled pigs' feet and crawdads; I've never been to a Burger King in Georgia), two large orders of fries, popcorn, cornbread, a side of buttermilk (I'd rather face execution, and I'm not even exaggerating in the least here, than be forced to drink a glass of buttermilk), a salad with lettuce, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, cheese, onions, boiled eggs, carrots and Newman's Own Buttermilk (yuck once again) dressing. Also requested was a glass of lemonade. Ms. Gissendaner would need something to ease down all that hogwash. And, to top it off, she actually requested dessert, which was, I believe, cherry vanilla ice cream. Seriously, if I eat fries with my child's plate hamburger, I have no room for dessert. This woman is in a whole different gastronomic league than I could be in even if I tried.

Before this woman is executed, it needs to be determined for certain that some sort of eating contest hasn't been chosen by the host country as an event for the next winter or summer Olympics. Assuming Ms. Gissendaner actually ate all of this garbage -- and I never read anything to the contrary -- I question whether  there's anyone in the world who could possibly  compete with her with regard to the sheer volume of food [and I apply the term food loosely here]  the woman is capable of consuming.  We all know how the U.S. feels about athletics, Olympics, and its medal tallies. This woman might be worth more to us alive than dead. Crimes of equal or greater gravity than the one of which Ms. Gissendaner was convicted of committing (I'm not intending to make light of the gruesome manner of death of Douglas Gissendaner; I'm merely making an observation regarding justice when it comes to  athletes in this nation)  have probably been swept under rugs in the name of maintaining athletes' eligibility for competitions.

Gastronomy notwithstanding,  let's return to the topic of inclement weather as it pertains to executions. I suppose I would understand if the planned method of execution were electrocution and there were concerns of possible storms and power outages, and generators were not sufficient to deliver the voltage necessary to give a person his or her final jolt.  In such a case, perhaps postponement would be warranted. Then again, why not just anchor the prisoner to a tall metal pole outside and let Mother Nature take care of the job herself? A little common sense and southern ingenuity was all that was really needed here. Are they worried the power will go out during the lethal injection?   According to the last I saw in my "Practice of Medicine " course, injections and even intravenous drips can be and usually are delivered manually, not that my "Practice of Medicine" course specializes in any way in how to most efficaciously administer executions. Perhaps it should if it would prevent something such as this current fiasco happening in Georgia. 

Dr. Sanjay Gupta teaches and practices in Georgia. why isn't Dr. Gupta out there at that prison facility telling the Department of Corrections how executions really aren't dependent upon 70-degree weather with light and variable winds, low humidity, and cloudless blue skies.  Dr. Gupta is all over the world telling everyone else all about medical issues that don't necessarily connect in any way  to his specialty of neurosurgery. Why can he not tackle this one happening practically in his backyard?

On an unrelated note, no matter what my dad says, it is not true that  I applied to Emory School of Medicine because I have a serious case on  Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Yes, I'll admit Dr. Gupta is a pleasing man at whom to look, but A) he's married, and B)  I cannot spend even one week, much less four years, in a place where people routinely eat rabbit kidneys on toast.  If I do any time whatsoever in the state of Georgia, it will be because I'm attempting to reach either Florida or South Carolina by car, and from certain directions, it's impossible to reach either by car without passing through Georgia. I will not trust the food supply in Georgia and will eat only what I've purchased in the last state I departed before entering Georgia. I'll set foot in the state only if I need to use their facilities. Even World of Coca Cola cannot entice me there.

Anyway, even if the power goes out while a person is being killed by lethal injection and a prison lacks back-up emergency generators, there's this revolutionary invention called the flashlight. One employee could shine it upon the extremity containing the vain into which the lethal substance was to be injected while another performed the actual injection. It's neither rocket science nor even Dr. Sanjay Gupta's beloved brain surgery. It's something they've even talked about having to do  in my "Practice of Medicine" class. (To clarify, in our class we weren't being taught how to execute a patient by having one staff member hold a flashlight on some poor Berkeley Rep guinea pig while another injected him or her with a lethal cocktail, but the same principal applies.)  Anyway, the bottom line is that I fail to see what in the world inclement has to do with one's date of executions.

And, going back to the topic of the  last meal, does the Georgia Department of Corrections plan to starve Ms. Gissendaner until her execution on Monday? She had her last meal, after all.  Or are they going to keep her alive on bread and water or corn flakes until her next scheduled date with destiny? Or does she get another Last Meal? i think it's only fair that, since they're dragging out the process, they give the woman another Last Meal. 

What could she possibly request that would top the last one? Let's help her out a bit here. burger king for two Last meals from a Burger Kung is a bit redundant. I think she should go for Carl Jr's this time, except I think maybe they call it Hardee's in the South.  She should request for two double western bacon cheeseburgers with extra barbecue sauce. And Carl Jr's (or Hardees') fries aren't all that great, so assuming there's a Sonic within transporting range, she should get her fries from there. Better still,, since it's Sonic, take advantage of the Okie variety and order tater tots either in place of fries or in addition to the fries, both with fry sauce (another one of those foods I wouldn't eat even if I were in the Donner Party). I wouldn't expect that eating both would be a major problem for Ms. Gissendaner. Sonic also has the best drinks. I'd recommend a cherry limeade. One of Sonic's hot fudge sundaes would probably be preferable to plain old cherry vanilla ice cream any day of the week., and if she were all that set on cherries, she could request that an entire jar of cherries be dumped upon her giant-sized hot-fudge sundae. Since Ms. Gissendaner has an apparent interest in nutrition and in taking care of her body, as evidenced by the healthy chef's style salad she ordered, I would have for her a salad specially  hand-crafted  by Georgia's own Paula Deen, complete with all the ingredients requested in the earlier salad, plus real bacon bits - made from bacon fried and chopped by Ms. Deen herself, and, instead of Newman's Own Buttermilk Syrup of Ipecac or whatever that vile pseudo- salad dressing made under the late actor's label is called, since it's a Paula Deen Salad, just drench it with a cube or so of melted butter.

I would say we've just about covered Ms. Gissendaner's final meal . . . unless this one, too, fails to become her actual final meal. Perhaps Georgia's Department of Corrections will change it's mind again. Maybe an Elvis impersonator -- a really good Elvis impersonator --- will offer to perform at the facility at the precise time on Monday for which the execution has been scheduled.  Why should the personnel charged with carrying out the execution of Ms. Gissendaner, have to miss out on a performance from a really good Elvis impersonator just because of someone's lousy execution date? Executioners have as much right to attend  Elvis impersonator performances as do the next  people, including Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who probably wants to be at both the execution and at the Elvis impersonator performance.

If it sounds as though I'm making light at someone's very life, even be it that of a convicted murderer, I'm not. One can make that initial eye-for-an-eye argument, but once a state's Department of Corrections is waiting until within hours of a women's scheduled execution, then is deciding that inclement weather  has forced a postponement of four days, it's crossed the line into cruel and unusual punishment in my view. Yes, she was convicted of an unspeakable crime., Lock her up in a stark cell and put the key in a very secure place in which she cannot reach it.

The State of Georgia, however, would do well to consider the last woman -- the only woman they ever executed, seventy years ago,  Sixty years later, it was concluded that she was indeed acting in self defense hen she struck and killed with a metal bar a man who had been holding her against her will and threatening her life. She was pardoned!  A lot of good it did her after she was already dead. Chances are that old age would have taken her life by that time, anyway, but society and the Georgia Department of Corrections would have had a lot less blood on its hands had they collectively allowed Mother Nature to be the executioner rather than so willingly taking the task  upon themselves.

Perhaps there are cases in which capital punishment is fitting and even necessary, but such instances are few and far between.  And does capital punishment really say more about us as a society than it does about the person on whom the penalty is being inflicted?  I really don't know. It's just that death is so incredibly final.  No act of rectitude is possible if it's later determined that it was human  error that ultimately resulted in the placing of that final form of justice upon a person's head.

And if capital punishment must be done, pick a damned date and stick with it come hell, high water, or Elvis impersonator performances.

Disclaimer: I in no way condone nor excuse any evil act Kelly Renee Gissendaner has committed, and, if guilty as charged, may she rot in a dank prison cell.


  1. Are you sure she actually got her last meal? Because I don't think prisoners get them until right before the execution (in states that still offer last meal requests). I'd be surprised anyone would have an appetite.

    As for the weather delay, it may help to remember that it rarely snows in Georgia and the lightest dusting causes the state to shut down. I lived in Georgia for about 18 months and, believe it or not, that was where I had my very first white Christmas. But snow is very much an anomaly there (though not as much as it is in Texas).

  2. BTW... Do me a favor and have a look at this...

    I'd love to get your thoughts on the musical folks I featured at the end.

  3. Good point, Knotty. When we lived in Dallas a good ice storm would shut down the city. The city can't afford to spring for the equipment to clear the streets since it's rarely needed.

    Alexis, this is a very funny post about capital punishment. It takes talent to pull that off!

  4. Thanks so much, Donna. Knotty, I'll have a look.

  5. I just wonder how clear the streets need to be for a few emergency vehicles to get to the state facility so that the essential personnel can be present. They could have pulled the event off as scheduled without every morbidly curious onlooker who wanted to be there if they really wanted to get the job done. As far as the gawkers (I understand that there's usually a lottery for tickets for unrelated bystanders to observe executions) and revenge-seekers, screw 'em. if they're insistent upon killing this woman and aren't to be deterred, delaying it and leaving her hanging is the cruelest thing they could do. If the weather is truly making the execution impossible, maybe it's a sign and her life should be spared.

  6. Do they have to eat it all at once, or can they break and return? You'd think the extraordinary amount of calories (specifically the ones from fat) would make her vomit... that's not what I would want to spend doing my last few hours/ minutes of existence.

    Here's a question, what would you choose to eat for your last meal? Would a Friendly's Clown Sundae be on that list?

    As for myself, that's hard to imagine... actually, I know the last thing I ate. I was annoyed and ate half a cookie at a Christmas party over the holidays. Worst choice ever for me. Cookies taste so much better before they've sat in your stomach for 12+ hours. My last meal that wasn't for testing purposes was toast and scrambled eggs on the day my bowel obstruction got really bad. Actually it was eating that which initiated the full symptoms. Over the last five years I've eaten two scrambled eggs with radioactive tracer for two gastric emptying scans 2 years apart, chicken fingers and fries for manometry testing (that I didn't want to eat) and vanilla yogurt for an EGG that wouldn't have been that bad if I didn't only have 10 minutes to choke the whole thing down.

    I'm not sure what I'd pick for a last meal mostly because I am never hungry, and that's an important part of desire. It's hard to choose something to put in your gut when you're not hungry (as you probably know quite well). Tonight, I think I'd go for some of my Nana's homemade blueberry muffins with some oatmeal with brown sugar (not anything from a paper package, either), made by my Nana. She is the essence of comfort food. If it was lunch, I might go for a Ruben with extra thousand island and two pickles (if I crave anything now, it's pickles.)

  7. You, Becca, have a most interesting perspective on the whole last meal thing..

    I've decided I would have four strips of crisply fried bacon, a very small chicken breast fried according to Bobby Flay's recipe, and a sonic cherry limeade. That much food is pushing it for me, and I'd ordinarily not eat so much at once, but if i were dying anyway, I'd take my chances. With the stuff the lady was requesting, however, there's no way I could come close. i'd barf for hours if I took one or two bites of each item she requested.

    My mom is irked with me because I sent three pictures of myself to hizzoner to show him that I am actually beefing up a bit. I think what really freaked her out was that in the first picture I was wearing a swimsuit. it wasn't even a bare midriff suit. When i posted it, I offered the disclaimer that inly a swimsuit shot showed just how truly pathetic I looked in the "before" days and that i had confidence his wife wouldn't think i was hitting on him because what woman in her right mind would send such a pathetic-looking picture in hopes of impressing any man, whether he be my own age or my parents' age? In the other two pictures, the ones where I've fattened up, i'm wearing jeans and a T-shirt. really sexy stuff, huh?

    I don't know why I bother telling my mom anything. She just freaks out. it's like she thinks I sent child porn over the Internet and am going to be charged. I hate to be the one to tell her this, but I'm not legally a child anymore. Even if I'd (which I would NEVER in a million years send to anyone, much less to the judge; I wouldn't even take or allow one to be taken, much less send it anywhere or keep it on a cell phone where it could be found and sent by anyone else) sent a nudie photo of myself, it wouldn't be the distribution of child porn, because I'm a legal adult.

    The judge was his typical cool self about it and said it's perfectly fine to send him pictures. I'm no competition for Mrs. Ferrer even if I wanted to be. I could probably fit my entire body into one of her bras if i tried. The judge is more of a father/uncle figure than anyone about whom I would ever have romantic notions. I'm pretty sure he understands this. I think my mom even understands it, but worries about the perceptions of the judge. She isn't giving him enough credit.

    The judge said I looked "adorable" in all three photos. He's a good liar. I look like either an anorexic or an albino Somalian refugee in the swimsuit shot. I'll try to pm them to you on the twitter tonight.

    1. Wow. Judge Alex is the bomb, isn't he?

    2. I've sent him photos before... one time when I was inpatient my abdomen was extremely distended, so much so that I could easily have passed for someone 7 months pregnant. I had taken a photo to show Dr. B and for actual proof that this sort of thing happens to me. It seems like most patient claims are viewed as hyperbole until proven otherwise, and when I told my home health care nurse about it, she sort of scoffed and didn't believe me until I showed her the actual photo. And then she wanted a copy to use for a class that she teaches. I found the idea interesting, so I told Judge Alex about it. I don't remember exactly if he asked to see the photo, or if my original message wasn't descriptive enough... however he told me that "at least I know that I'll look cute pregnant." The photo wasn't explicit, I was in hospital PJ's.

      If you just randomly sent him the photo without an explanation (which is so out of your character), then it might be some what weird... though, he understands your reason for sharing the image. I also see him as a paternal figure, so I recognize your intentions, especially because body image is something that you often write about.

    3. PS; I completely forgot about bacon!! Thanks for sharing your last meal order.