Last Meals, Part Six

This is the Sixth installment of the Last Meals series by Historydojo. Please find the previous post here, and the first post in the Last Meals series here.

Cornelius Goss

Cornelius Goss

“Cornelius Alan Goss, 38, was executed by lethal injection on 23 February 2000 in Huntsville, Texas, for murdering a man while burglarizing his home.”1

Goss had never been violent before this, and it makes sense that the violence was caused by accident, or out of fear and self preservation. Goss was a burglar, having served time for burglary and being released just a few weeks before the killing of Carl Leevy, whose home he broke into that day.

“In May 1987, Goss, then 25, broke into Carl Leevy’s home through a bedroom window and began looking for valuables to steal. He stopped by the refrigerator and helped himself to a drink, then turned into the living room, where Leevy, 66, was dozing in an easy chair.”1

Graves' diseaseThe fact that Goss was not moving quickly, but rather slowly, adds an air of leisure to the crime. One can image Goss strolling through hallways and admiring pictures, looking to gain a sense of the family whose items he would steal. Casually he wandered through bedrooms and into the kitchen, where he opened the fridge and grabbed a bottle of cola, and turing to see the site he did not expect to see.

The immediate rise in tension can easily be felt just imagining the scene, with Goss holding the drink up to his mouth, eyes bulging wide as he looked down the bottle to observe the sleeping Mr. Leevy stretched out on his Laz-y-Boy recliner snoring away after his morning golf game.

Corelius Goss Arrest Record“When the floor squaked, Leevy stirred. Goss grabbed a nearby 2-by-4 and clubbed Leevy to death.”1 

The bottle of cola probably crashed to the floor as Leevy’s eyes opened. Now both men had eyes bulging out of their heads. Goss, frozen with the discovery of the owner right in front of him, and Leevy with the shock of seeing a burglar drinking a soda from his own fridge standing just feet away.

Clubbing Leevy to death was not a murder with malice aforethought, but the prosecutors would have made it seem so. To the jury, a black man robbing and killing a white man in Texas would reach a guilty verdict on that summation alone.

And this is not to say that Goss did not deserve the death penalty. He beat Leevy to death with a 2×4 that was just within reach. (How it got there, and why Leevy would keep a piece of lumber in his living room remains a mystery.) What we can say is that this killing seems to be done in the moment; a moment of surprise.

He then stole a gold coin, a watch, some jewelry, and a camera. His fingerprints were found inside the home and he later gave a voluntary statement to police.”1

The absence of any thought, and the robbery that followed reveal a killer who did not piece things together in his mind. It seems apparent in retrospect that robbery in broad daylight would lead to an interaction with a homeowner.

Goss did not put the timing of his crime and the chance of running into someone together in his head. If he had, he might not have gone through with it.

Goss does not appear to have any real critical thought.

Later, Goss was arrested because he tried to sell the gold watch he stole from Leevy. The authorities quickly picked him up and he confessed under interrogation to the crime.

Again, he did not try to hide, flee or change his identity. He behaved quite simply, as if unaware that he would be easy to find, especially if he was trying to pawn the jewelry of his victim soon after killing him.

Not connecting the dots, Goss was something of a simpleton. He did not combine two things to anticipate an outcome. “If I do ‘A’, then I will experience ‘B’…”

This fruit salad may be too complex.

His last meal did not have any complexity either, nor did it even combine ingredients. Like Goss, his last meal was simple, uncomplicated and without sophistication. Like his crime, his last meal seems to lack any appreciation for deep thought.

Executed February 23, 2000: “One apple, one orange, one banana, coconut and peaches.”2

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  1. Texas Execution Information Center
  2. Book of Lists, by Nick Russ51hQs0lNEaL._SX401_BO1,204,203,200_

Author: historydojo

I’m a National Board Certified Teacher with nearly twenty years of experience teaching high school history. I blog about teaching, history, current events, the law and social justice.

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