Dead Man Walking (1995) Script

(♪ "The Face of Love" by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan with Eddie Vedder)


♪ Look in the eyes of the face of love

♪ Look in her eyes, oh, there is peace

♪ No nothin' dies within pure light

♪ Only one hour of this pure love

♪ To last a life of 30 years

♪ Only one hour, so come and go ♪


Hi, Sister Helen. Hi. How ya doin'?

Well, if it ain't the late Sister Helen.

I got a note from my mama, Idella.

Do you need a new composition book? How about you, Melvin?

The resident counselor wants us at their meeting tomorrow. Can you be there?

Yes. Oh... New poetry books.

Your poem got all smudged. Smudged?

Sister Helen, I got another letter from that guy.

Which guy is that? Angola inmate. Death row.

Oh, yeah.

Could you write to him? He could use some friendly words.

Sure. I'll come up after the class.

It got smudged. You can still read it.

"There's a woman standin' there in the dark and she's got big arms to hold you, but you won't feel those arms, that hug, till you can see her face.

So you stand there waiting for the light at the end of the road."

Idella, that is so fine. Thank you.

My lawyer seems to have disappeared.

So I could use some help on the legal end, but I'd take a kind word or a visit.

It gets real quiet here sometimes.

None of these guys on the row can afford attorneys for appeals.

We get frantic phone calls from death row inmates, begging us to find them attorneys. Who work for nothin'.

That's right. Each petition takes hours to prepare.

Attorneys aren't exactly lining up for the job.

(♪ "The Face of Love")

Dear Sister Helen, Thank you for writin' to me. I'm writin' from my home, my six by eight foot cell.

I'm in here 23 hours a day.

We don't work on death row.

We're special here.

They keep us away from the general population of the prison.

We're the elite, cos we gonna fry.

It's hard not to get soft in this cell. I press my footlocker, try to get my muscles in shape, but it's hard not to get fat.

Rice, potatoes, pancakes, beans.

Sometimes I feel like a sow that's being fattened up for a Christmas slaughter.

I had a dream that I was about to be fried in the chair and a guard came into my cell with a chef's hat on.

He started to roll me in breadcrumbs, lickin' his chops and all.

Maybe I'm weird to have dreams like that, but your mind does funny things when you're surrounded by people that wanna kill you.

Anyway, thanks for writin'.

I don't get many letters or visitors.

No one in my family seems able to make the trip out here. I understand.

It's a long drive from Slidell.

Good morning. Good morning, Father.

Sister... Helen Prejean. Nice to meet you.

Have you been in a prison before? No, Father.

Sister Clement and I sang at the juvenile detention center in New Orleans.

We sang "Kumbaya" and the boys really liked it.

They started makin' up their own verses, singin' "Someone's escapin', my Lord..."

The guards made us sing a different song.

Where is your habit?

Our sisters haven't worn the habit for 20 years, Father.

You are aware of the papal request regarding nuns' garments, aren't you?

I believe the Pope said "distinctive clothing", not habits.

Well, I'm sure you will interpret it in your own way. Whatever's convenient.

Matthew Poncelet.

I remember him from the news. Him and another fella shot two children in the back of the head on a lovers' lane.

Raped the girl, stabbed her several times.

Do you know what you're gettin' into?

So what is it, Sister?

Morbid fascination? Bleedin'-heart sympathy?

He wrote me and asked me to come.

There's no romance here, Sister.

No Jimmy Cagney "I'm wrongly accused.

If I only had someone to believe in me."

They are all con men and they will take advantage of you every way they can.

You must be very, very careful. Do you understand?

Yes, Father.

These men don't see many females.

For you to wear the habit might help instill respect.

For you to flout authority will only encourage them to do the same.

Woman on the tier!


You can wait over there. We'll bring your man out for you.


Well, Matthew, I made it.

Thanks for comin', ma'am.

Never thought I'd be visitin' with no nun.

So you're a nun. Yep.

I'm here to listen, and whatever you wanna talk about, that's fine.

You're very sincere.

What do you mean?

You never done this before? No.

Never been this close to a murderer?

Not that I know of.

You live in St. Thomas. Lots of niggers.

They knock each other off like beer cans off a fence.

When I got your letter and I seen "Helen" on it, I thought of my first ex-old lady.

I almost ripped it up. She turned me in. Called the cops.

Orphaned our kid, the stupid bitch.

You've got a kid? Yeah, a con with a kid.

Girl or boy? Girl.

What's her name?

You ask a lot of questions. I don't know you.

Well, never mind.

In your letter you say you work with poor people.

Your daddy was a lawyer. You come from money, don't you?

Some.

And you live in St. Thomas projects? I don't know who's crazier, you or me.

I live where I work. Yeah. In a slum.

What about you? I live here.

You... were brought up poor?

Ain't nobody with money on death row.

Then you and I have somethin' in common.

What's that? We both live with the poor.

Mm.

Ain't you gonna ask me what I done?

The chaplain filled me in. Farley?

He's a very religious man.

I didn't kill nobody. Carl went crazy on me.

Carl? Vitello. He oughta be sittin' here.

Went nuts on me. I was scared, did what he said, held that boy back.

He killed them.

You watched him kill these kids?

I'll tell you the truth, ma'am.

Me and Carl were loaded on downs, acid and booze when this happened.

I hadn't slept in two nights. I was outta my head.

But I didn't kill 'em.

I didn't kill nobody. I swear to God I didn't.

Ally.

Ally? Her name.

She's cute. She's 11... or 12. I don't know.

She was born when I was first in prison. I seen her once.

When was that? When she was three.

Do you write to her? I don't know where she is.

She's in Texas somewhere. Foster parents.

Go on and finish up, Sister.

Look... They're about to go on a killin' spree here.

They're gonna zap this guy Tobias tonight.

The guards are takin' bets on who's next. I'm at even odds. It's not good.

So I got two chances: The pardon board or the federal appeals court.

I wrote the motion on the appeal, but I need somebody to file it.

Can you help me with that?

You know how to write a motion?

When your back's against the wall, you learn the law real fast.

Call it special motivation. I been on death row six years.

I've studied every law book I can get my hands on.

This stuff is about my case - transcripts of the trials, legal papers.

Maybe they'll help you get ahold of things faster.

You rustle me up a lawyer, we can file a motion for appeal.

You ain't comin' back. No, I... Are these your only copies?

I got my own copy. But if you ain't gonna help me, I don't wanna waste 'em.

I'll do my best. And I appreciate your trust.

Sister, I don't trust nobody in here.

But you don't kiss my ass or preach that hellfire and brimstone crap.

I respect that. You got guts.

You're livin' in a neighborhood with every nigger carryin' a gun.

Come on, Helen. Hit it!

Playing possum, huh? You think you can trick us, you dumb animal?

You think you can fool us?

How fast was I goin'? 75 miles an hour, ma'am.

Wow!

Are you a nun? Yes, sir.

Never gave a ticket to no nun before.

Gave a ticket to a guy from the IRS one time. Got audited the next year.

Sister, I'm gonna let this one slide.

But keep your speed down. Yes, sir.

On Friday night, Walter Delacroix, age 17, and Hope Percy, 18, had been just two happy people celebrating one of life's turning points.

The couple was shot twice at close range in the back of the head with a .22 rifle.

Poncelet and Vitello also face six counts of aggravated kidnapping and one charge of aggravated rape.

Before the murders, the men allegedly had cut a path of terror across the area.

A police spokesman said today, in the wake of the murders, Poncelet addressed the judge as "Cap" and smirked when the jury found him guilty of murder today.

Poncelet claims Vitello killed both of them.

Y'all think he's lyin'. Vitello accuses Poncelet.

Both say the other did the actual killing. Somebody's lyin' to somebody.

They were both there. We know that much.

How is it possible one guy gets life, the other death?

Well, the State has probably got a stronger case against Poncelet.

Vitello had a better lawyer. Created a reasonable doubt in the jury's mind.

And Vitello gets life, Poncelet death. Yeah.

Bad luck.

He needs help, Sister.

There's this lawyer, Hilton Barber. He's aware of the case and told me no.

Maybe you can change his mind. With the aim of gettin' him out?

I'm not sure I wanna run into this guy on the street.

There's no way he's gettin' off. He was there. He was an accomplice.

That's life!

A life sentence in a Louisiana prison is for real.

You're just tryin' to stop the State from killin' him.

You want out? That's cool with me.

You don't have to go back there.

Get tough on sentencin'. Get tough on lenient parole boards.

Get tough on judges who pass light sentences.

Hello. Sister Helen?

Who's this? Matt Poncelet, Sister.

I know I'm on death row, but there's guys been here years and years.

I didn't know this was comin'. They set a date.

What? They're gonna kill me on the 13th.

I didn't know you needed a lawyer to get a pardon board hearing.

I'd do it myself if they'd let me, but they say...

OK... OK, Matthew.

Uh... I think I know of a lawyer that may be able to help you.

I'll do my best, all right? Sister, come through for me.

You're all I got. They got me on a greased rail to the death house here.

I ain't heard from you. You ain't fadin' out on me, are you, Sister?

I'll get you the lawyer. Just... try not to worry.

I'll call you soon. Bye.

It's about time the State got with the program.

Call me sentimental, but I'd rather see him fry.

Barring any last-minute appeals or stays, Poncelet will die under the State's new execution procedure, the lethal injection machine.

Hello? Luis, this is Helen.

Can you give me the name of that lawyer you wanted me to talk to?

How long you been doin' this, Sister? Doin' this?

Counseling death row inmates. Oh, I'm not counseling him.

I just met him once. What's your impression?

I don't know if I like him.

He needs help, but the best thing is to bring him to you.

Well, I'll do my best.

Courts don't wanna hear appeals on death-penalty cases.

You can have new evidence of innocence and the court won't hear the case.

We're the pariahs. We're... "Have many rabbit."

Think that's a "for sale" sign or a cry for help?

Or is it braggin'?

Imagine that poor guy. Bought two rabbits a year ago and now he's overrun.

Comin' like popcorn!

The governor runs for re-election so they set a date for my execution.

Show how tough he is on crime. Matt, I agree with you.

Politics did play a big part in this, but don't bring it up before the pardon board.

Why not?

Because it's full of political appointees.

The last thing they wanna hear is some convicted killer tellin' them they is bunk.

We have to present you as a human being and convince them to spare your life.

We have to prove I'm innocent.

We're filing appeals with the federal and supreme courts.

This is a pardon board. It don't matter to them whether you pulled the trigger.

They're gonna be thinkin' of the crime, and of you as a monster.

It's easy to kill a monster, but it's hard to kill a human being.

We need people that know you to speak for you. Your mama should be there.

I don't want her there. She'll bust out cryin' till she can't say nothin'.

Your mama should still be there.

No. She'd have to hear the Delacroixs, the Percys, the DA.

But if she's not at the hearing... Excuse me for buttin' in.

You're right. It's gonna be upsettin' for her but... she's your mama, Matthew.

She should have the opportunity to speak for her child.

She's just gonna blubber her head off.

Yeah, well, she has the right to do that.

What if you die and she hasn't had a chance to speak for you?

Don't you think it'll always eat at her, wonderin' if she could have saved you?

I'll think about it, but I got my pride.

I ain't gonna kiss ass in front of these people. I ain't gonna kiss nobody's ass.

(♪ "This is the Day the Lord Has Made")

What are you making, Kenitra? An Easter card for my mama.

♪ I will rejoice

♪ I will rejoice and be glad in him

♪ And be glad in him

♪ This is the day that the Lord has made

♪ I will rejoice and be glad in him

♪ This is the day

♪ This is the day that the Lord has made ♪

Happy Easter.

Yes? Mrs. Poncelet?

No.

Mrs. Poncelet, please.

She don't live here. Who is it?

My name is Sister Helen Prejean. I know your son Matthew.

Happy Easter.

You sure you're a sister? Yes.

You're not from the TV? No.

You're sure?

How do you know Mattie?

I met him on death row.

Well, you never know who's at your front door.

So what do you want? Mattie send you for money, for cigarettes?

No.

So what do you want?

You know they set the date for Matthew's execution.

Yeah. The prison called. Said if it goes down, do I got death insurance.

Hah!

What a laugh! I ain't even got food money.

His pardon board hearing is this Wednesday.

His lawyer thinks it'd be a good idea if you were there.

What does Mattie think?

He's worried. He wants to protect you.

Well, it's a little late for that.

That show Inside Crime did a thing on Mattie and told how I tried to help him and everything.

A regular Ma Barker or somethin'.

Now I'm famous.

Yesterday I was in the store and I see these two ladies eyein' me.

When I get closer, I hear one of them say, "I can't wait to hear that they've executed that monster, Matthew Poncelet."

That's cruel.

My boys are havin' a real hard time at school.

Kids picking on 'em, beating 'em up, calling 'em names.

Someone put a dead squirrel in my little Troy's locker.

Poor boy came home cryin'.

What'd he ever do to anyone?

I just keep... tryin' to figure out what I done wrong.

They have been ploughed over by life. He first got in trouble when he was 15.

Every kid does that. His daddy was never around.

Most of your kids in the project are raised by single parents.

They're not rapin' and killin' people. Really, Helen, you're being suckered.

What about the parents of these victims?

Have you counseled them? You think they'd wanna talk to me?

Don't people in your neighborhood need your help?

Yes, Mama. I'm still workin' with them.

But why are you visiting with murderers?

For all the energy that you're putting into them, you could be keepin' other kids from going to prison.

Mama's friends read an article which associated your name with Poncelet.

My name was in the paper? It has nothing to do with that.

I am simply curious. Helen, what has drawn you to this?

Mama, I don't know.

I feel caught more than drawn.

The man's in trouble and, for some reason, I'm the only one he trusts.

Your heart's in the right place, but a full heart shouldn't follow an empty head.

Or an empty stomach.

You'd always bring home strays. If we'd taken in all those dogs and cats, we wouldn't have had any money to feed the children in this house.

Your heart is large.

Just take care that others don't take advantage of it. I'd hate to see that.

All right, Mama.

My daddy took me to a bar when I was 12 and told me to pick my whiskey.

There was all these bottles behind the bar.

I said "I'll take that one there with the pretty turkey on it."

The guys in the bar laughed their butts off. We got drunk as coots that night.

My daddy was a good man. Sharecropper. Hard worker.

That's the one thing I got from him - workin' hands.

How old were you when he died? 14.

Why's you a nun? I was drawn to it, I guess.

That's a hard question to answer. It's like asking you why you're a convict.

Bad luck. Good luck, then.

I had a lovin' family, a lot of support. I felt obliged to give some of it back.

Don't you miss havin' a man?

Don't you wanna get married, fall in love, have sex?

You don't wanna talk about it?

I have close friends - men and women.

I've never experienced sexual intimacy, but there's other ways of being close.

Sharing your dreams, your thoughts, your feelings.

That's bein' intimate too.

We got intimacy right now, don't we, Sister?

I went to see your mother.

She said she'd appear at the pardon board hearing if you want her to.

I like bein' alone with you.

You're lookin' real good to me.

Look at you.

Death is breathin' down your neck and you're playin' your little man-on-the-make games.

I'm not here for your amusement, Matthew. Show some respect.

Why should I respect you? Cos you're a nun and you wear a cross?

Because I'm a person. Every person deserves respect.

What's it gonna be with your mama?

Mattie had a hard life, but he was a good boy.

When he was six, he...

he...

Ladies and gentlemen, let's be honest.

You're not gonna find many rich people on death row.

Matthew Poncelet's here today because he's poor.

Didn't have money for representation, so he took what the State gave him.

A tax lawyer who'd never tried a capital case before. An amateur.

The jury selection took four hours. The trial lasted five days.

The lawyer raised one objection the entire trial.

Now, if Matthew had himself some money, well, he could have hired a team of crackerjack lawyers.

They would have hired top-notch investigators, a ballistics expert, a psychologist to compile profiles of desirable jurors, and you can be sure Matthew Poncelet wouldn't be here today, before you, asking for his life.

The death penalty. It's nothing new. Been with us for centuries.

We've buried people alive, lopped off their heads, burned them alive in public squares.

I wanted them to see this picture.

In this century, we've searched for more and more humane ways of killing people we didn't like.

We've shot 'em with firing squads, suffocated 'em in a gas chamber.

But now...

Now we have developed a device that is the most humane of all.

Lethal injection.

We strap the guy up.

We anaesthetize him with shot No. 1. Then shot No. 2 implodes his lungs and shot No. 3 stops his heart.

We put him to death just like an old horse.

His face just goes to sleep. Inside, his organs are going through Armageddon.

The muscles of his face would twist and contort and pull, but you see, shot No. 1 relaxes those muscles so we don't see any horror show.

We don't have to taste the blood of revenge on our lips, while this human being's organs writhe, twist, contort.

We just sit there quietly, nod our heads, and say "Justice has been done."

It is six years since the brutal murders of Hope Percy and Walter Delacroix.

Justice is long past due.

Matt Poncelet has had a lengthy, thorough court review.

A trial, a retrial for sentencin', numerous appeals to state and federal courts and successive petitions filed by Mr. Barber.

There has been no doubt in the court's mind about who did the murder.

Matthew Poncelet is not a good boy. He is a heartless killer.

These murders were calculated, disgusting and cruel.

This man shot Walter Delacroix two times in the back of his head, then raped Hope Percy and stabbed her 17 times before shootin' this sweet girl two times in the back of the head.

These families will never see their children graduate from college.

They will never attend their wedding.

They will never have Christmas with them again.

There will be no grandchildren.

All they ask of you is simple justice for their unbearable loss.

I ask you to take a breath, steel your spine and proceed with the execution of Matthew Poncelet.

It's always a good sign when you have to wait.

I don't know if we made any headway. I thought you did great.

Best thing would be if they realized their own culpability in the death of a man.

Hilton. Excuse me, Sister.

I'm Walter Delacroix's father.

Mr. Delacroix, I'm sorry about your son.

Sister, I'm a Catholic.

How can you sit by Poncelet's side without ever coming to visit with me and my wife or the Percys to hear our side?

How can you spend all your time worryin' about Poncelet and not think that maybe we needed you too?

Mr. Delacroix... I didn't think that you wanted to... talk to me.

Earl, are you goin' in?

This is Mary Beth and Clyde Percy.

I'm sorry about your daughter. Yeah. So are we. Excuse us.

Listen, Sister.

I'm sure you've seen a side of Matt Poncelet that none of us has seen.

I'm sure he's on his best behavior and must be pretty sympathetic to you.

But, Sister, this is an evil man.

This is a man who abducted teenage kids and raped... and killed them.

That scum robbed me of my only son.

My name... my family name dies with me.

There will be no more Delacroixs, Sister. No more.

I want you to know I do care about you and your family and what happened to your son.

I'm gonna give you my number and if there's anything that you need, you just call me. Me call you?

Think about that, Sister. Think about how arrogant that is.

Excuse me.

You all right?

We better be gettin' on in.

It is the finding of this board that clemency be denied to Matthew Poncelet.

Execution will be carried out as scheduled one week hence.

Don't give up hope, Matt.

We still got a judge that can put a stop to this.

Then there's the US Supreme Court and the governor.

I'll get a private meeting.

You're all I got, Sis.

They tell me I can have a spiritual adviser of my choice.

Will you do it?

Ride along into the sunset with me.

You're gonna have to spend several hours with him every day as his death nears.

And on the day of his execution you're gonna have to spend all day with him.

It's not an easy job.

Usually it's done by a chaplain or a priest or a Muslim cleric.

I want you to be realistic about this.

We've got about a one in 1,000 chance things might go our way.

It's a tough road.

If that had been a king, you could have gone back over again.

You can jump three this way, then go all the way back.

She got that big old bad joker and she don't wanna put it down.

All right. My turn. My turn.

I got an ace. I'm really lucky.

Whose was this?

Oh, please don't kill him.

He's a child of God. He's a poet, blah, blah, blah.

Attention all ye advocates of killers and child molesters, ye opponents of execution.

Ye cannot walk upon the high ground.

Ye do not have the moral authority to walk there.

Ye traverse with scum and scum is where ye...

What do you want?

Mr. Delacroix, forgive me for intrudin', but I haven't been able to get you and your wife out of my mind.

I've been tryin' to call you but there's been no answer.

Can I please speak with you?

Sure.

I'm really sorry for not comin' to visit with you and your wife before this.

But... I've never been involved in anything like this before.

Truth is you're scared.

Yes.

I'd be too.

Come in. Thank you.

Sister... Can I ask you a question?

Are you a communist? Communist? No.

That's what some people are sayin' with you defendin' this murderer.

But I didn't think so. Sit down.

Thank you.

Care for some coffee? Thank you.

Sorry about the mess.

My wife and I had a big fight.

When we got back from the hearing, she... took Walter's clothes out of his closet.

Put 'em in boxes. Called Goodwill.

She says she wants to put the past behind her.

She says she... has to move on in her life.

She's not herself. That must be so hard.

When it first happened, she had me bring her to Walter's grave every morning.

She wept a river, poor woman.

Whole days, nights... for weeks, months.

I wish there was some way, some key into the past, to change it.

It tears me up.

She used to be a ball.

We would have us some fun, boy.

Some times.

Laugh... Laugh our heads off.

Walter learned to walk on this floor right here.

He bust his chin on the arm of that sofa right there.

In that love seat right there, he sat with Hope... the week before they died.

When you lose a child all the memories, get sealed in a place.

Sealed.

Like a... shrine.

So, you've put in a request to be the spiritual adviser to Matthew Poncelet.

Yes, Father.

Why? He asked me.

This is highly unusual.

Why? You would be the first woman to do it.

Really?

This kind of situation requires an experienced hand.

This boy is to be executed in six days and is in dire need of redemption.

Are you up to this?

I don't know, Father. I hope so. I've been prayin' for guidance.

You can save this boy by getting him to receive the sacraments of the Church before he dies.

This is your job. Nothing more, nothing less.

If you need any help, please feel free to call on me.

Thank you, Father.

I don't wanna be buried here.

They said they'd call Mama and ask her about the funeral arrangements.

Could you do that? She'd fall apart on 'em.

I'll do it.

You ever read the Bible?

Yes, ma'am.

I ain't much of a Bible reader, but I pick it up from time to time.

Like WC Fields read his Bible.

Who? WC Fields.

Played this drunken character in the movies.

He's on his deathbed and a friend comes and sees him readin' the Bible.

The friend says "WC, you don't believe in God. Why are you reading the Bible?"

And Fields says "I'm lookin' for a loophole."

I ain't lookin' for no loophole.

Rain, rain, rain.

That's a bad sign. They already executed one black - Tobias.

Wayne Purcell tonight. That's two blacks.

Time for a white. The governor's under pressure to get a white.

And that's me!

Nigger on the gurney before me. I hope they clean it before they put me on it.

Was your daddy a racist?

What kind of question is that? You have to teach a child to hate.

I just don't like niggers. Have you known any black people?

They was all around when I was a kid. Lived around me.

Did you ever play with a black child? No. Me and my cousin got jumped once.

What happened? We was throwin' rocks at 'em.

Next day they wait their chance, get ahold of our bikes, tear 'em up.

Can you blame 'em? No.

But slavery's long over. They always sayin' what a bad deal they got.

The kids that tore up your bike? I can't stand people who are victims.

Victims. Yeah. They all victims.

I don't know any victims in my area. I know some decent, hard-workin' people.

I know a lot of lazy coloreds suckin' up tax dollars.

You sound like a politician. What's that mean?

You ever been the object of prejudice? No.

What do people think about inmates on death row?

Why don't you tell me? They're all monsters.

Disposable human waste suckin' up tax dollars.

They gonna kill me. I'm innocent.

I ain't whinin'. I ain't sittin' on no porch going "Slavery, slavery."

I like rebels. Martin Luther King, he led his people all the way to DC.

You respect Martin Luther King? He put up a fight, wasn't lazy.

What about lazy whites? Don't like 'em.

So it's lazy people you don't like.

Can we talk about somethin' else?

Jesus also said "He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword."

Purcell had it coming to him. He had it coming!

Nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.

It's the only way we can be sure that they will not kill again.

Life without parole. Oh, sure!

How many prison guards and prisoners do they have to kill before it's over?

These people are mad dogs. Maniacs.

Come on. Let's go.

If the governor and the courts turn us down, Matt's gonna be dead in six days.

We gotta get us a funeral home and... someplace to bury him.

Maybe our sisters will donate one of their burial plots.

Somebody to do the burial service.

Clothes. I guess... a suit.

A suit?

What size suit do you think he wears?

I don't know.

How tall is he?

I don't know. I think he's... kinda big.

What... size is kinda big? Does it run like big, medium and petite?

Well, I don't know. I never bought a man's suit before.

Won't you be a pretty sight? A nun shoppin' for a man's suit!

I'm out of my league. This is so surreal.

Hope had just graduated from high school in early May.

She was to join the air force on June 15th.

That's the day it happened.

She almost got out of Slidell.

She was hopin' to get stationed overseas.

She liked to travel and loved being around people of different cultures.

On June 15th, the recruiting sergeant was to meet Hope in Slidell and drive her to Baton Rouge for induction.

The day before I took her shoppin' for things she'd need.

You know, just practical things.

That evening about five, she dressed and headed off to work at Coreys where she waitressed.

After work she had a date with Walter.

As she was about to leave, the hem of her skirt was comin' out and I...

She was in such a hurry, so...

I pinned it for her with one of those tiny safety pins and she was gone, out the door.

You don't know, when you see your child leave, that you're never gonna see them alive again.

If I'd known that, I would have told her how much I love her.

You know, my last words to her, the last that she ever heard from me, were about the hem of her skirt.

Next morning we waited for her to come out of that door.

This was Hope's big day.

Our baby was leavin' home.

Her room was empty and the bed was still neatly made.

So I telephoned the Delacroixs.

Our hearts sank when they told us that Walter hadn't come home that night too.

And then for one brief moment we thought, well, maybe they'd run off and gotten married or somethin'.

But we knew that she was just too sensible a girl to do that.

I went down to the police and filled out a missing person's form.

Three days later, the sheriff formed a search party.

I went along with 'em. They were gone all day.

They just walked for miles and nothin'.

On Thursday, June 20th, some kids were walking near Flank's Cove and they found a purse, some clothing and a wallet. They turned them in to the police.

They found the kids' bodies on Friday, six days after they'd gone missin'.

My daughter's body was nude, legs spread-eagled.

The coroner's report said that her vagina was all tore up.

At first they couldn't find this class pin she was wearin' cos it was embedded so deep from the stabbin'.

She loved that pin. She was so proud of it. She wore it all the time.

It said "Class of '88. Making a difference."

The police wouldn't let us identify the body.

They said it would be too traumatic.

I just couldn't bear the thought of them buryin' that body without makin' absolutely and positively sure that that was Hope.

So I called my brother. He's a dentist.

I asked him to go to the funeral home and make an ID from dental records.

Before he'd stuck his hand into that bag with all that lime in it and fished Hope's jaw out, he'd been against the death penalty.

And after that he was all for it.

I knew it had to be Hope.

That's what my mind told me, you know, but I... just had to be sure.

OK. This is Sister Helen Prejean.

Hello. Nice to meet you, Emily.

OK?

OK. Let's go in the kitchen. I'll make us some coffee.

I met Poncelet face to face in the hallway during the trial.

I ain't gonna get no chair, Daddy.

You're gonna fry. And I'm gonna watch you sizzle.

There was a sheriff standin' pretty close by me.

I could have grabbed his gun. I could have shot Poncelet right there.

I could have killed him on that day. I wished I would have.

I'd be a happier man today.

So what made you change your mind?

Change my mind? What made you come round to our side?

I just... wanted to come and see if I could help y'all and pray with you.

Thank you.

But...

He asked me to be his spiritual adviser, to be with him when he dies.

And what did you say?

That I would.

We thought you'd changed your mind.

We thought that's why you were here.

No.

How can you come here? How can you do that?

How can you sit with that scum?

Mr. Percy, I've never done this before. I'm...

I'm tryin'...

I'm just tryin' to follow the example of Jesus, who said that every person is worth more than their worst act.

This is not a person. This is an animal.

No, I take that back. Animals don't rape and murder their own kind.

Matthew Poncelet is God's mistake.

And you want to hold the poor murderer's hand?

You wanna be there to comfort him when he dies?

There wasn't anybody in the woods to comfort Hope when those two animals pushed her face down into the wet grass!

I just wanna help him take responsibility for what he did.

Does he admit to what he did? Is he sorry?

He says he didn't kill anybody. Sister, you're in way over your head.

You don't know what it's like to carry a child and give birth and get up with a sick child in the middle of the night.

You say your prayers and get a good night's sleep.

My parents raised me to respect the religious.

Sister, I think you need to leave this house right now.

I'm sorry.

Wait a minute.

If you really are sorry and you really do care about this family, you'd wanna see justice done for our murdered child.

You can't have it both ways.

You can't befriend that murderer and expect to be our friend too.

You brought the enemy into this house, Sister. You gotta go.

I come from a good family. My family can't be blamed for nothin'.

I had two families. Both of 'em I'd live and die for.

Your other family is? The family of man. Of men in prison.

My white family, the Aryan brotherhood.

You're a white supremacist, a follower of Hitler?

Hitler was a leader. I admire him for gettin' things done.

Like Castro. Hitler might have gone overboard with the killin' stuff, but he was on the right track about the Aryan race.

The right track? The murder of six million Jews?

That's never been proven.

What am I doin' with this guy? I'm nuts.

...political assassination of Castro, Allende, Sandinistas...

The government shouldn't...

Hello? Sister? Hilton Barber.

We need you to come in for a strategy meeting.

In the Shreveport Times, Poncelet says that if he had to do it all over again, he would do something useful like bombing government buildings.

We must get him off this political prisoner kick.

Henry, how close are we on the supreme court docket?

A couple of days. We don't have a couple of days!

We don't have the legal staff, Hilton. You've had it three days.

Where were you yesterday anyway? I had to take my kid to the dentist.

A man's gonna die on death row and...

My kid needed to hold her daddy's hand.

If you don't like it, find another lawyer to volunteer his time.

People are thinkin' you're some kind of a nut.

Admirin' Hitler and wantin' to come back as a terrorist and blow people up!

I didn't say people. Government buildings, not people.

How can you bomb a building without hurtin' somebody?

I ain't got no love for the US government.

You're a fool. You are makin' it so easy for them to kill you.

Comin' across as a crazed, animal, Nazi, racist, mad dog who deserves to die.

Is that what you think?

You are makin' it so difficult to help you.

You can leave. I'm not gonna do that.

It's up to you. You want me to go, you say so.

Do you ever think about those kids?

It's terrible what happened to them kids.

It didn't have to happen.

Do you ever think about what you and Vitello did to their parents?

It's hard to have sympathy for them when they want to kill me.

Well, think about it. Their kids are shot, stabbed, raped, left in the woods to die alone.

What if it happened to your mama or your little brother?

What would you wanna do to them? I'd sure as hell wanna kill 'em.

I understand them parents, but they callin' for the wrong head.

I wanna take a lie detector test. What?

It won't change their minds, but I want my mama to know I didn't kill any kids.

Boy, that's good.

Hey, y'all! Havin' a party! Palmer.

Herbie, how's your side feelin'? OK.

Kenitra, how are you doin'? Fine.

Come on, Kenitra. Let's go. Bye-bye.

Wait a minute. What happened?

There's talk in the neighborhood.

Someone read some of Poncelet's racist comments. Your name was in the article.

Oh, Lord.

You haven't been at the learning centre.

They think you care more about him than your classes.

Colleen, I'm so sorry. It's all right. I still love you.

I just thought you should know.

Oh!

I got this at Goodwill.

I talked to Bishop Norwich. He said he would say the funeral mass.

I also found a funeral home willing to donate their services.

The leaders of the congregation met and we can use one of our own burial plots.

If Matt dies, guess who he'll be buried next to.

Who was the last person to die? Sister Celestine.

Oh, Lord.

Remember when that sweet little girl came to introduce her husband to us?

Sister Celestine said "I'm glad I'll never have to share my bed with a man."

She loved her celibacy so much. I know.

She's gonna be lyin' next to a man for all eternity.

My daughter's killer can possibly get out on parole in another year.

He's only served six.

I can't bear the thought of him bein' a free man and her buried in the ground and dead for ever.

...was killed by her ex-husband.

...stabbed to death in our backyard by my son's best friend.

He'd spent the night at our house and gone to church with us that very morning.

I've just lost my child.

When our child was killed, it took over a week to find her body.

The DA's office treated us like we were the criminals.

My wife... filed for divorce this afternoon.

We just have different ways of dealing with our son's death.

"Until death do us part."

We're nothin' special.

Most folks that lose a kid split up.

70% or somethin'.

I just wish I could laugh, find somethin' funny.

This is my car.

Thanks for invitin' me, Mr. Delacroix.

You take care, Sister.


What the fuck you doin'? What you doin'?


Raise your arms.

Go ahead.

Have a seat in that chair.

Like my new digs?

Hi.

I'm pretty special.

I'm pretty special. Have this place all to myself.

They got ten guards guardin' me.

Got one guy that comes down every 15 minutes just to see if I killed myself.

Suicide watch.

Never had so many people carin' about what I was doin'.

When did they bring you here?

Last night. Late.

Didn't say goodbye to most of the guys on the row. They were asleep.

Did you take care of that lie detector test yet?

I made some calls, but I haven't had any luck yet.

So this is the end, huh? My death-house vacation.

Three days of quiet. Plenty of time to read my Bible.

Look for a loophole.

Did you read anythin' about Jesus in that Bible?

Uh... Holy man. Did good. In heaven.

Praise Jesus.

There are some passages in there about when Jesus was facin' death alone that you might wanna check out.

I think me and Jesus have a different way of dealin' with things.

He's one of them turn-the-other-cheek guys.

It takes a lot of strength to turn the other cheek.

You say you like rebels. What do you think Jesus was?

He wasn't no rebel. Sure he was. He was a dangerous man.

Why is "love your brother" dangerous? Because his love changed things.

His love changed things.

All those people nobody cared about - prostitutes, beggars, the poor...

...they finally had somebody who respected them, loved them.

Made 'em realize their own worth.

They were becomin' so powerful that the guys on the top got real nervous and so they had to kill Jesus.

Kinda like me, huh?

No, Matt... Not at all like you.

Jesus changed the world with his love. You watched while two kids were killed.

Step back from the door, Sister!

Why? What's happenin'?

Move it on out, boy. Well, Sister... What's this?

He'll be an hour, Sister. Why don't you get some air?

Where are they takin' him? I can't tell you.

Sister Helen? Chaplain Farley called. He's at the gate. He'll be right here.

Thank you.

Sergeant Trapp, how long do you think that big old tree's been there?

Ma'am, ain't no tellin'.

Saw you outside the gates the other night at Purcell's execution.

Yeah.

You seemed upset. Upset? No.

Were you in the room when they did it? I'm on the strap-down team.

Left leg. That's my job. The left leg.

We take the prisoner from his cell to the execution chamber.

Wow. That's gotta be tough. It's hard. I didn't sleep that night.

I think it's gotta affect everybody that sees it, whether they're for it or against it.

It's just part of the job. These prisoners get what's comin' to 'em.

It's easy for someone to come in here and make a rash judgment on procedure.

What may appear on the surface to be irrational or unnecessary proves upon examination to have solid reasoning and experience behind it.

Father, all I want is to play a hymn for Matt before his execution.

And experience tells us that music stirs up emotion.

Emotion that can produce an unexpected reaction in the inmate.

All right. Do you have any objection to my asking the warden for his opinion?

I would oppose it, but you may if you like.

Thank you. And thank you for your time.

I understand you were protesting outside the gates during the last execution.

Yes.

Are you familiar with the Old Testament? "Thou shalt not kill."

"If anyone sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed."

Yes, Father. In the New Testament, Jesus talks about grace and reconciliation.

Poncelet has to understand that Jesus died for his sins.

If he accepts that, reconciliation is his and his soul shall have eternal life.

One's opinion of the death penalty is not the issue here.

Look at Romans. "Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities.

For there is no authority except from God.

And those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves."

What is it? She collapsed in my office.

She's havin' a heart attack. I'm OK. I just fainted.

I just need something to eat.

Could you tell Matt what happened, please?

When we're finished here. No, I've gotta tell him now.

I'll take care of it, Sister. Thank you.

Good news. This isn't a heart attack. I'm just hungry.

They don't let visitors eat in the death house. They must think we feed on air.

Is that the machine they use after an execution?

Yes, ma'am. Just have to be official about the whole thing.

Thank God we're off the electric chair. It's easier to take the needle.

Just part of the job, you know. Let's get you up and put some food in you.

Who puts the needle in?

That's private information.

Is it you?

We're not allowed to disclose any specifics regardin' execution procedure.

Sister, let me get you some food. Then we'll send you home.

I gotta get back to Matt. I'm sorry, Sister.

This is warden's orders. You're through for the day.

Where'd you go yesterday? You all right? I asked what happened. Nobody'd tell me.

You didn't know? They told me they'd tell you...

They took me into that little room. They was measurin' me...

Measuring you? See how big a coffin I needed.

Then I come back and you were gone. I spent the day alone.

Oh, Matt. I'm sorry.

I'm so sorry.

You ever get lonely? Yeah, sure.

Sometimes on Sundays when I smell the neighborhood barbecues and I hear all the kids laughin' and I'm sittin' in my room, I feel like a fool.

What I miss most bein' here are women.

You know, I used to sit at the bar, just drinkin' and listenin' to music.

I'd dance till three or four in the morning.

I ain't gonna lie. I believe in doin' it.

Me and my lady friends, we'd grab a bottle, some weed...

...go out in the woods and we'd do it.

It's somethin' you miss, ma'am.

Let's face it.

If I had a husband and family, chances are I'd be with them right now instead of here visitin' with you. Yeah, true enough.

I'm glad you're here.

Do you want me to get a message to your daughter?

Let her be.

Those things'll kill ya.

I ain't gonna let 'em break me.

I just pray God holds up my legs on that last walk.

It's the wait, it's the countdown that gets to you.

We're gonna know soon about the federal appeal.

And Hilton and I are meeting with the governor this evening.

Fat chance he's gonna do anything. Risk his political butt for me?

I wish I hadn't said all that shit about Hitler and bein' a terrorist.

Stupid!

Hartman says there won't be any more media interviews.

Good. Keep my stupid mouth shut.

I arranged for a lie detector test for tomorrow morning.

All right. There is some good news.

The man that's giving the test has serious doubts that they'll get an accurate result.

Why? Tomorrow's the day of your execution.

You'll be under stress and the test can mistake stress for dishonesty.

No problem. I'm home free.

You been readin' your Bible?

I tried to last night.

Makes me wanna sleep.

I'm tryin' to stay conscious.

I appreciate you tryin' to save me.

Me and God, we got our thing squared away.

I know Jesus died on the cross for us, and he's gonna take care of me when I appear before God on Judgment Day.

Redemption isn't a free admission ticket you get because Jesus paid the price.

You gotta participate in your own redemption. You got some work to do.

I think you should look at the Gospel of John, chapter eight, where Jesus said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

I'll check it out. I like that. "The truth shall make you free." I like that.

So I pass that lie detector test, I'm home free.

Matt...

If you do die... as your friend, I wanna help you die with dignity.

You can't do that unless you own up...

...to the part you played in Walter and Hope's death.

Hilton Barber, Bishop Norwich.

Pleasure, Bishop. Here's the situation.

Governor Benedict is a reluctant supporter of capital punishment.

He has the power to stop this execution and save a man's life.

It's the last vestige of the divine right of kings.

The trick is that we have to appeal to him on a personal level, without any fanfare.

That's why this is a private meeting.

You must understand that, in representing the State, I must carry out the laws and must submerge my own personal views to carry out the will of the people. I'll look carefully at this case.

But unless there's some clear, striking evidence for innocence, I will not interfere with the process.

We still got the court, Sister.

We might hit pay dirt on one of the legal issues.

Helen! Helen, come to dinner!

You're looking for a love that's so big, it takes in all evil.

Annunciations are common. Incarnations are rare.

You're not a saint, Helen.

Helen. Helen.

Helen.

Helen. Oh, Mama.

Are you OK? Oh, yes. I was just dreamin'.

What time do you have to be there? Nine sharp.

Did you set a clock? Yeah.

Oh... It's so bizarre.

A man's gonna be killed in front of me tomorrow.

Has he admitted anything? Oh, no.

He's so full of hate. He doesn't trust anybody. He just...

He keeps pushin' me away.

You're in deep water, kid.

Do you remember when you gave me a black eye?

I had a fever. You were delirious, hysterical.

You were trying to get up and run into the street.

You socked me in the eye and you said you hated me.

You screamed, but I held you. I held you tight.

Cos a mother's arms are strong when her child's in danger.

I didn't sleep at all last night.

I didn't take that nerve medicine they wanted to give me.

I'm lookin' death in the eyes. I'm gettin' ready to go.

Listen, Matt, I want you to know that I respect your need for privacy.

If you wanna be alone, or be just with your family today, I understand. I won't be offended.

You should be there, ma'am.

I'm gonna want somebody to talk to, be there till the end.

I'll be there.

If only I knew I would die right away with the first shot. Will I feel it?

The lungs go first.

Like a... fast choke.

That's gotta hurt.

They say that, uh... the body doesn't move.

Doesn't shake.

My poor mama.

Any word from the Fifth Circuit?

None yet. That's a good sign.

They've had it a good while. Maybe that means they see something substantive.

I gotta go. I'll call you later. Thanks, Hilton.

Tell me somethin', Sister.

What is a nun doin' in a place like this?

Shouldn't you be teachin' children?

Do you know what this man has done?

How he killed them kids?

What he did was evil. I don't condone it.

I just don't see the sense in killing people to say killing's wrong.

You know how the Bible says an eye for an eye?

The Bible also asks for death as a punishment for adultery, prostitution, homosexuality, trespass upon sacred ground, profaning the Sabbath and contempt of parents.

I ain't gonna get into no Bible quotin' with no nun, cos I'm gonna lose.

She was only on the phone a few minutes and she was fallin' for the old Matt charm.

I had to take back that phone. You were tryin' to steal my gal.

You dog! She sounds like a great little gal.

She ain't so little, though.

You take care of her, Craig. Don't do nothin' stupid.

She looks a bit like... What was that girlfriend you had in high school?

I had lots of girls in high school.

The one with the funny name. Funny name?

Maddie... Maldy. Maldy?

Madrigal. Madrigal. Madrigal.

Madrigal Parmelee. Oh, she was hot!

She was a nasty little thing! Matthew.

Sorry, Mama. She was a fine, upstanding young woman.

How about you, Troy? Got yourself a little girlfriend?

No.

Why not? Ain't got time.

Too much fishin' and campin' to do.

Troy just got a new tent. What kinda tent you got?

Army tent. Not like them sissy ones with all them colors.

Tell Matt about the other night. Campin' in the backyard.

I made him come in. I was worried.

I went out there and I made him come in.

Mama, that ain't what happened.

Go on. Tell him. Come on.

Me and my buddy Paul put up the tent, cooked our own dinner.

We roasted potatoes in tinfoil on the fire and cooked us some weenies.

Then what? Go on.

About midnight... About nine o'clock, I think.

We heard some kinda animal. What kinda animal?

It was big.

Was it a bunny? A possum?

Was it a squirrel? Was it a mouse?

Shut up! It was big and nasty. Look me in the eye, little man.

Did you go in cos Mama told you to or cos you were scared?

Now tell the truth.

Look me in the eye.

We got him!

Some people ask about your funeral.

I get real angry and say "He's not dead yet."


Sorry, folks. We have to wrap this up. It's early, isn't it?

Rules say they can stay till 6:45.

It's time for you folks to be leavin' now.


Here you go, Poncelet. Thanks, man.

I got my stuff in these pillowcases.

I'd like it if y'all took it home with you.

I don't want the prison sendin' it. Craig, you can divide up the stuff.

Except my boots from Marion. I want to walk to my execution in these boots.

Up on your feet.

Y'all say your goodbyes now.

See you later, Matt.

Bye. No goodbyes, little man.

No, ma'am. Can't she hug him?

I'm sorry, Sister. Security reasons.

Don't cry, Mama. I don't wanna see no cryin'.

I'm not sayin' goodbye now.

I'll call you tonight. See you, Matt. Stay strong.

Don't cry, Mama. I'll call you later.

We love you, Mattie.

If I'd put my arms around my boy, I'd never have let go.

Is my mama all right?!

She's fine, Matt.

All right. Goodbye.

I never had shrimp before. They're pretty good.

So what did he say? What's the word on the lie detector test?

Your answers showed stress, as predicted and the results were inconclusive.

Man... Was the dude sure? Absolutely, positively sure?

I felt all right answerin' them questions. I didn't feel no stress.

I can't believe I failed it.

You'd have to be a robot or insane not to feel stress now.

I can't believe that test didn't come out right.

Let's talk about what happened. Let's talk about that night.

I don't wanna talk about that.


Get outta the car. Hey, you're a pretty bunny.

You're trespassing. This is private property.

Let's go.

You're under arrest. Step outta the car.

We'll just leave. We didn't know...

Get outta the car!

Where are we going? There's a little bar back here.

Our boss is in the bar. We can't let you go. You been bad.

Our boss is gonna be pissed. Maybe he'll let you go.

Well, here we are. This is the bar.

Can we get you a drink? Kneel down.

I'm pissed off!

Pissed off at them kids. Pissed off at their parents comin' to see me die.

Pissed off at myself for lettin' Vitello do it.

I got my last words. I know what to say to the Percys and the Delacroixs.

Your last words will be words of hatred?

Clyde Percy wants to inject me hisself!

Think of how angry he must be.

He's never gonna see his daughter again.

Never hold her, love her, laugh with her.

You've robbed these parents of so much. They have nothin' but sorrow. No joy.

That is what you have given them.

What possessed you to be in the woods? I told ya. I was stoned outta my head.

You were harassing couples for weeks before this happened. Months!

What was it? What do you mean?

Did you look up to Vitello? Did you think he was cool?

Did you wanna impress him?

I don't know.

You could have just walked away. He went psycho on me.

Don't blame him. You blame him, the government, drugs.

You blame blacks, the Percys, the kids for bein' there!

What about Matthew Poncelet in this story?

What is he? Just an innocent? A victim?

I ain't no victim.

Poncelet.

The federal appeals court turned you down.

I'm sorry.

Sister, please step into the corridor.

I'll be right outside.

Matt? Yeah.

I'm sorry, son. I feel like I failed. No, you didn't fail. You didn't.

I appreciate everythin' you and the others done for me.

What is she typin'? The forms for the witnesses to sign.

You didn't fail.

The justice system in this country failed me. It stinks bad.

I'm gonna head out there right now.

Oh, God, help me. This is such a terrifyin' place, Lord.

So cold. So calculated, this murder.

Just don't let him fall apart, God.

Help him stay strong. Help me, Jesus, stay strong. Help us, Lord.

Help us stay strong. Help me.


They shaved the calf of my leg.

Why?

I guess they was worried they wouldn't find a vein in my arm.

What's that number?

I put it on there when I was in Marion.

In case somebody killed me, they could identify my body.

Did it hurt when you got all those?

You seein' these tattoos, you're gonna think I'm a bad person.

Nah, you just have more color on your body than I thought.

Tried to give me two shots.

A sedative and an antihistamine. Antihistamine?

Yeah.

If I had an allergic reaction to the first shot that knocks you out, it gets messy.

Somethin' I wanna give you.

My Bible.

I dated it myself.

Hey...

Thanks, Matt.

Step back from the cell, Sister.

Time to call home.

Will you stay?

I'll stay. I'll just give you some privacy.

Hey, man.

You know what I'm doin'. What are you doin'?

Yeah. It... The time's tickin' away.

Hey! What you doin' grabbing the phone?

Gonna sleep in that tent tonight?

Hey, Mama. I'm waitin' to talk to you.

Don't cry, Mama. Don't cry.

Don't cry.

That's not what it was, Mama. That's not what it was.

I was... I was small.

It had nothin' to do with that guy.

Yeah, I can hear him. Let me talk to him.

Hey, Troy. You take care of Mama, OK? All right, little man?

You take care of Mama.

Mama? Mama?

I love you, Mama. I love you, Mama.

I just let it flow.

Told my mama I loved her.

Talked to each of the boys. I hate saying goodbye.

I just told 'em, if I get a chance, I'd call right before I go.

What, Matt? What is it?

My mama said it was that Vitello.

She'd always regret that I got involved with him.

I didn't want her thinkin' that.

It was somethin' that you said. I coulda walked away.

I didn't.

I was a victim.

I was a fuckin' chicken.

He was older and tough as hell.

I was just... boozin' up, tryin' to be as tough as him. I couldn't...

I didn't have the guts to stand up to him.

I told my mama I was yellow.

She kept sayin' "It wasn't you, Matt. It wasn't you. It wasn't you."

Your mama loves you, Matt.

That boy...

Walter.

Yeah?

What?

I killed him.

And Hope? No, ma'am.

Did you rape her?

Yes, ma'am.

Do you take responsibility for both of their deaths?

Yes, ma'am.

When the lights dimmed last night, I kneeled down and I prayed for them kids.

I never done that before.

Oh, Matt...

There are spaces of sorrow only God can touch.

You did a terrible thing, Matt. A terrible thing.

But you have a dignity now. Nobody can take that from you.

You are a son of God, Matthew Poncelet.

Nobody ever called me no son of God before.

Called me a son of you-know-whats a lot of times. Never no son of God.

I just hope my death can give them parents some relief.

Maybe the best thing you can give to the Percys and the Delacroixs is a wish for their peace.

You know, I never had no real love myself.

Never loved a woman or anybody else much good.

It figures I'd have to die to find love.

Thank you for lovin' me.

Look at the time. It's been flyin'.

I'm really cold.

Can he have a jacket or somethin'? He's cold.

What happened to that song you were gonna play for me?

The hymn? Uh-huh.

They have a rule you can't have music in the prison.

So they won't let me play it.

Well, you know the words. You could sing it.

I can't sing. That's OK.

Come on.

♪ If you pass through raging waters of the sea, you shall not drown

♪ If you walk amid the burning flames

♪ You shall not be harmed

♪ If you stand beside the power of hell

♪ And death... is at your side

♪ Know that I will be there

♪ Through it all

♪ Be not afraid

♪ I go before you always

♪ Come, follow me

♪ And I will give you rest ♪

Thank you.

I need you to step into the corridor, Sister.


Gimme my boots! I want my boots!

A grown man goin' to his death in a diaper and slippers!

I'll be done with all of this.

No more bars, no more cells, no more life in a cage!

Matt... Sister Helen, I'm gonna die.

You know the truth. The truth has made you free.

God knows the truth about me.

I'm goin' to a better place. I'm not worried about nothin'.

You all right?

Yes. I'm OK.

Christ is here. I'm not worried about anything.

OK.

Look. I want the last thing you see in this world... to be a face of love.

So you look at me when they do this thing.

You look at me.

I'll be the face of love for you.

Yes, ma'am.

Time to go, Poncelet.

Can Sister Helen touch me? Yes, she may.

Dead man walkin'!

(♪ "Sacred Love" by the Dusing Singers)

"Do not be afraid for I have redeemed thee.

I have called thee by thy name.

Thou art mine.

Should thou pass through the sea, I shall be with thee.

Should thee walk through the fire, thou shalt not be scorched."

God have mercy on your soul, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

That's as far as you go, Sister.

Will you check in on my mama from time to time?

Yes, Matt. You have my word on that.


Do you have any last words, Poncelet?

Yes, sir. I do.

Mr. Delacroix...

...I don't wanna leave this world with any hate in my heart.

I ask your forgiveness for what I done.

It was a terrible thing I done in taking your son away from you.

How about us?

Mr. And Mrs. Percy, I hope my death gives you some relief.

I just wanna say...

...I think killin' is wrong, no matter who does it.

Whether it's me, or y'all, or your government.


I love you.


May the love of God and the peace of our dear Lord Jesus Christ bless us and console us and gently wipe every tear from our eyes. Amen.

May almighty God bless you, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Go now in the peace and love of Christ.

Thanks be to God.

I know you're gonna be strong for your mama.

Mr. Delacroix.

Sister. It's good to see you.

I don't know why I'm here.

I got a lot of hate. I don't have your faith.

It's not faith. I wish it were that easy.

It's work.

Maybe...

...we could help each other find the way outta the hate.

I don't know.

I don't think so.

I should go.

Evenin'. Good evening.

Hi, Idella. Colleen!


(♪ "Dead Man Walkin"' Bruce Springsteen)

♪ There's a pale horse comin'

♪ And I'm gonna ride it

♪ I'll rise in the mornin'

♪ My fate decided

♪ I'm a dead man walkin'

♪ In St. James Parish

♪ I was born and christened

♪ I've got my story

♪ Mister, ain't no need for you to listen

♪ It's just a dead man talkin'

♪ Once I had a job, I had a girl

♪ Between our dreams and actions lies this world

♪ In the deep forest

♪ Their blood and tears rushed over me

♪ All I could feel was the drugs and the shotgun

♪ And my fear up inside of me

♪ Like a dead man talkin'

♪ 'Neath the summer sky my eyes went black

♪ Sister, I won't ask for forgiveness

♪ My sins are all I have

♪ Now the clouds above my prison

♪ Move slowly across the sky

♪ There's a new day comin'

♪ And my dreams are full tonight

(♪ "The Long Road" by Eddie Vedder with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan)


♪ We all walked the long road

♪ Cannot stay

♪ There's no need to say goodbye

♪ All the friends and family

♪ All the memories goin' round, round, round, round

♪ I have wished for so long

♪ How I wish for you today


♪ We all walked the long road

♪ Cannot stay

♪ There's no need to say goodbye

♪ All the friends and family

♪ All the memories goin' round, round, round

♪ I have wished for so long

♪ How I wish for you today

♪ How I've wished for so long

♪ How I wish for you today

♪ We all walked the long road