The following is from Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain, by Carroll Pickett (2002), about occurrences in Texas, on January 31, 1995:
"As I waited in the death chamber for the funeral home attendants to arrive and remove Russell's body, Warden Morris Jones, who had replaced Pursley after his retirement, returned. The look on his face spoke to the fact that we were deep in uncharted waters. 'What we do from here on out is up to you,' he said. 'I want you to take as much time as you feel you need with this next one. Take care of him. Do things as you see fit.'
"Even as he spoke, new needles and tubes were replacing those that had funneled the lethal poison into Russell's veins. As soon as his body was removed, the gurney would be wiped clean. I couldn't help but mentally compare the death chamber to a busy restaurant where busboys hustled to a vacated table, cleaning away dishes and silverware and spreading fresh linen so that a new group of customers could be ushered in.
"Warden Jones placed a hand on my shoulder and squeezed. He shook his head slowly. 'I'll be in my office,' he said as he turned to leave. 'Call me when you feel like he's ready.'
"If anything, he was guilty of nothing more than a poor choice of words. But as he walked away, I felt a cold chill run the length of my spine. Call me when you feel he's ready. What he was saying was that the decision as to when Willie Williams should die was being left to me. And, in that moment, with a nauseous feeling growing in the pit of my stomach, I was suddenly, and without the slightest intent, part of the process, an active participant in the planned death of another human being. There, in the quiet first hour of a new day, with the night outside still as black as a cave, I had been pulled over a line I had long fought not to cross ....
"'Chaplain,' he [Williams] asked as soon as we had gone through the formalities, 'how much longer do we have to wait?'
"'It's up to you. We can talk some. Maybe there are letters you want to write. It's late, but if there are people you want to call, we'll try to call them,' I said.
"He shook his head. 'I'm ready to get it over with.'
"'As soon as possible.'
"I placed a call to the warden's office. 'He's ready,' I said.
"And at 1:57 A.M., less than an hour and a half after the death of Clifton Russell, Willie Ray Williams was pronounced dead.
"It was soon thereafter that I began to experience abdominal pains for which my doctor, in spite of every test he could think to perform, could find no physical cause. My problem, I knew, was not of the body but of the mind and spirit. I had watched too many people die in the name of justice and vengeance. My feelings about what was taking place with increasing regularity had grown stronger. It was becoming increasingly difficult to hide my thoughts about the barbaric nature of executions. And I began to consider the possibility that it was time to step away.
"Time and time again, condemned men had sat in the Death House holding cell, marking the final hours of their lives, and asked the same question. They were generally not educated, but the simple logic of their question had the wisdom of scholars. How, they repeatedly asked, could the state kill a person to show others that killing is wrong?
"It was a question for which I had no good answer. For, in truth, there was none."