PUTNAM COUNTY, Florida –
Florida Governor Rick Scott quietly approved death row inmate Del Berkley’s wish to attend a progressive dinner as per his last meal request.
Berkley, convicted of homicide and armed robbery in 2008, made the request earlier this month to reportedly “spice things up” from his usual drab prison meal routine before his scheduled execution.
The progressive dinner was held last week in a neighborhood not far from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office House of Corrections. A review of the meal, written by Berkley, was published in the prison’s newsletter under the column “Bars and Spoons.”
“Overall it was good,” wrote Berkley. We started with a light course of appetizers at the “X” family’s neat suburban home. Nice big windows. Easy access. No guard dog.”
To be honest,” Berkley wrote, “this first course of mini entrées kind of suffered — I couldn’t choke down that tiny puffed tuna casserole. ‘And you thought my stare was cold and icy!’ I said to the hostess. ‘I’m never coming back here again!’ On the upside, I was allowed a glass of wine, which sure beats the crap out of the stuff I usually make in my toilet, that’s for damn sure! I really appreciated that.”
After a head count, the meal progressed to destination number two.
The “Y” family decided to make me feel ‘at home,’ so they went with a prison-themed dinner for the main course,” wrote Berkley. “They wore striped shirts and had these little plastic chains around their ankles which ticked me off a little at first, but I took it all in stride. After all, I didn’t want to come off as some kind of death row ingrate,” he said.
“The tin cups were funny and I gotta admit, the Y’s were very original with the dishes. We started with a towering Big House salad, then we had the Pork Shank Redemption, and to finish me off, I enjoyed a cup of Midnight Espresso. To call this meal a guilty pleasure would only be a half-truth,” he added.
The next part of the meal was the dessert course. “I wondered if I could force it all down after all that food! I was so full, I thought I was gonna die! Talk about ‘dead man walking’ – I practically had to be carried out to the van! After thanking my hosts, I was transported to my final destination.”
Unbelievably, the dessert was ‘Death By Chocolate Cake.’ “It was a complete coincidence,” said Berkley. “Mrs. ‘Z’ told me that she had planned her menu far in advance of my visit to her ADT Alarm protected ranch style home with the sliding glass doors adjacent to the attached garage which leads to the laundry room,” he said.
After the meal, when Berkley was transported back to the correctional facility, more good news awaited him. Due to the national shortage of lethal chemicals used in the humane execution process, his scheduled execution was indefinitely delayed.
“Is this an execution or a hunger strike?” asked Stefanie Fales, heartbroken widow of Martin Fales, Berkley’s homicide victim. “I’m calling my Congressman and the Governor!” she said.
“I can’t believe it,” said Berkley upon hearing the news. “I’m sitting here full as a tick, happy as a clam. True, it’s going to be an awful comedown once that plastic tray comes sliding through that slot tomorrow morning with those powdered eggs, but, … you can’t have everything!”