- "I did not get my Spaghetti-O's. I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this."
- "Grasso's infamous last words."
Thomas J. Grasso (November 23rd, 1962 - March 20th, 1995) was a 32-year-old male executed by lethal injection at Oklahoma State Penitentiary, McAlester, Oklahoma, United States, on March 20th, 1995, for two murders.
New York detectives investigating the murder of Leslie Holtz arrested Grasso and within two weeks he had confessed to both murders. He first told investigators about the Staten Island killing, then about the murder of Hilda Johnson. Grasso pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years to life on April 21st, 1992.
The New York legislature had passed legislation which would have restored the state's death penalty, but governors Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo, who were both morally opposed to the death penalty, vetoed the legislation.
Grasso's case became an issue in George E. Pataki's gubernatorial campaign and 11 days after Pataki took office, Grasso was extradited, fulfilling the new governor's campaign pledge.[clarification needed] Pataki and Governor Frank Keating of Oklahoma, both Republicans, signed an agreement that allowed Oklahoma correction officials to take custody of Grasso at Buffalo International Airport. Prison officials escorted him on a commercial flight to the state penitentiary at McAlester via Tulsa, on January 11th, 1995.
Grasso spent his last days on the normal prison schedule, confined for 23 hours a day to his 14- by 18-foot cell in the prison's Death Row (H-unit), which he shared with 49 other condemned men. He was allowed one hour's exercise per day and three showers per week.
On the day before his execution, Grasso released four statements to the press. The first, at 3:00 p.m., read, "What we call the beginning is often the end, and to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from." The second, released at 8:25 p.m., read, "For most of us, there is only the unattended moment, the moment in and out of time. And right action is freedom from the past and future also." The first part of the second statement is a line from T.S. Elliot's "The Dry Salvages".
His last meal was two dozen steamed mussels, two dozen steamed clams (flavored by a wedge of lemon), a double cheeseburger from Burger King, a half-dozen barbecued spare ribs, two strawberry milkshakes, one-half of a pumpkin pie with whipped cream, diced strawberries, and a 16-ounce can of SpaghettiOs with meatballs, served at room temperature.
Less than an hour before he died, he issued his fourth and final statement, "I did not get my Spaghetti-Os, I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this."
Just before 1:00 a.m. (EST) on March 20th, 1995, Grasso walked from his cell to the execution chamber. The witnesses, including Grasso's lawyers and 12 reporters, sat in an adjoining room. About 1:00 a.m., with Grasso strapped to the gurney, warden Ron Ward picked up a phone in the witness room and spoke to Governor Keating, who granted permission to proceed from his official residence in Oklahoma City. Grasso was pronounced dead at 1:22 a.m.