For many Texas Death Row inmates, the journey to their ultimate end is decades long. This is due to our appeals process, because here in Texas, "a defendant sentenced to death is entitled to an automatic appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals."

While expensive and extremely time-consuming, it's a safeguard (of sorts) against potentially executing someone unfairly. I say this with a grain of salt because Texas is not without its dubious executions- and people who didn't get executed who probably should have.

tx dept of corrections/ getty images
tx dept of corrections/ Getty images

But what happens to the people who waive their right to appeal?

To put it bluntly, they get put down in under a year. Here are the two men who did just that.

Joe Gonzales:  Executed after 252 days on Death Row. 

tx dept corrections
tx dept corrections

Joe Gonzales was convicted of the 1992 robbery and murder of a 50-year-old man in Amarillo, Texas. Gonzales staged the scene to make it appear that the man had shot himself in the head, but the missing property, including cash, proved otherwise.

Murder committed while engaging in certain other felonies, like robbery, is a capital crime, and therefore eligible for the death penalty. Defendants must also demonstrate continued dangerousness- and Gonzales had felony priors.

READ MORE: Long Timers: A Look At Texas Inmates On Death Row 30+ Years

It appears that Gonzales was genuinely remorseful, and perhaps that is why he waived his right to appeal. These are his last words:

There are people all over the world who face things worse than death on a daily basis, and in that sense I consider myself lucky. I cannot find the words to express the sadness I feel for bringing this hurt and pain on my loved ones.I will not ask forgiveness for the decisions I have made in this judicial process, only acceptance. God bless you all.

Steven Renfro: Executed after 263 days on Death Row


Steven Renfro was convicted of shooting three people to death and injuring a police officer during a Valium and liquor-fueled rampage in 1996. Renfro, dressed in camouflage and armed to the hilt,  killed his common-law wife, his Aunt who lived with them, and a neighbor.

He fired at two responding police officers, shooting Officer Dominick Pondant, who was still able to return fire and hit Renfro in the shoulder and abdomen. Pondant was awarded for his courage.

READ MORE: Texas Death Row: Notable Last Meals (And Why They Are No Longer Served)

Renfro waived his right to appeal, quite possibly out of "atonement" for his actions. That was what his former classmate and prosecuting attorney, Rick Berry, believed.

Here are Renfro's last words:

I'd like to tell the victims' family how terribly sorry I am. I am so sorry. Forgive me, if you can. I know it's impossible, but try. Take my hand, Lord Jesus, I'm coming home. Glory be to God.

Knowing you did something unforgivable and having to live with it for decades seems hellish to me. Perhaps these men had the right idea- even if it was after they did horribly wrong things.

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