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Killer’s thwarted last-meal wish inspires charity

A convicted murderer put to death in Tennessee this week got his last meal wish after he died. Philip Workman had turned down the traditional final meal of his choice, asking instead that a vegetarian pizza be given to a homeless person. Prison officials refused. But news of the request touched a nerve.
Execution Workman
Convicted killer Philip Workman talks to a visitor at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 19, 1999.Mark Humphrey / AP
/ Source: msnbc.com news services

A convicted murderer put to death in Tennessee this week got his last meal wish after he died.

Philip Workman had turned down the usual final meal of his choice traditionally offered the condemned, asking instead that a vegetarian pizza be given to a homeless person.

Prison officials refused to send out a pizza, and Workman died Wednesday by lethal injection.

But news accounts of his request touched a nerve with the public.

Nashville's Union Rescue Mission received 170 pizzas. Media reports said listeners to a radio station in Minnesota also ordered pizzas sent to another organization for troubled youngsters.

Dorinda Carter, spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Correction, said, "Taxes are to be spent on specific things for the care of the inmates." But she acknowledged there was no regulation against carrying out Workman's request.

An official at the mission said "the pizzas were enjoyed greatly by our clientele."

Workman, 53, was convicted of killing a Memphis police officer in 1981. He was robbing a Wendy's restaurant and got into a gun battle with police. He wounded one officer and shot at a second, but he contended another officer's bullet accidentally killed police Lt. Ronald Oliver.