SHOW: CNN LARRY KING LIVE 21:00 pm ET
January 14, 1998; Wednesday 9:00 pm Eastern Time
Transcript # 98011400V22
SECTION: News; Domestic
LENGTH: 7250 words
HEADLINE: Karla Faye Tucker: Live from Death Row
BYLINE: Larry King
HIGHLIGHT: She's on death row, scheduled to be executed in a matter
weeks. A special interview with Karla Faye Tucker from a Texas prison.
BODY: LARRY KING, HOST: This program tonight was taped about six hours
ago here at the Mountain View Unit, Texas Department of Corrections,
Gatesville, Texas, about a half hour from Waco, Texas.
And our guest for the full hour is a lady you have probably come to know
or have read about. She is Karla Faye Tucker and she is scheduled to be
executed February 3rd by lethal injection in this prison.
Does it get worse every day?
KARLA FAYE TUCKER: No. It gets a little more exciting every day.
KING: Interesting choice of words, Karla.
KING: Exciting, how?
TUCKER: Just to see how God is unfolding everything. Every day something
new comes up and it's exciting to be a part of it because there's a lot
going on, and it's going affect a lot of people. And it's a blessing to
be a part of it, and it's exciting to know that God has a plan for this.
KING: So you're not down?
TUCKER: No. I am not down. A little tired sometimes but not down.
KING: Not pessimistic?
TUCKER: No. Never pessimistic.
KING: Let's go back. You're a very attractive young girl. You're smart.
What went wrong? What happened 14 years ago?
TUCKER: Bad choices, drugs.
KING: Bad boyfriend?
TUCKER: That too, yes. A bad choice in boyfriends.
KING: How old were you?
TUCKER: I was 23.
KING: Had you had a troubled youth?
KING: Had a problem growing up?
TUCKER: I did.
TUCKER: A lot of drugs, a lot of anger and confusion, no real guidance, I
was just out of hand, and had no guidance at a certain point in my life
when I was most impressionable and probably could have been steered the
right way. There wasn't anybody there to steer me.
KING: Where was mother and father?
TUCKER: My mother was doing drugs, and she lived a very wild life. My
father had tried up to certain point, but he had no control. My mother
had him under a threat that if he laid a hand on us or did anything to
us, she'd have him put in jail.
KING: So you had no parenting?
TUCKER: When I was very young, probably up until about six or seven I
KING: And you grew up where? In Houston?
TUCKER: In Houston.
KING: Do you have any brothers or sisters?
TUCKER: I have two sisters.
KING: Did anything bad happen to them along the way this?
TUCKER: Bad relationships.
KING: Did they get in trouble?
TUCKER: Probably not with the police that much, but bad relationships and
things that they never got caught for.
KING: Wrong men though?
TUCKER: Yes, especially one of them.
KING: In fact, you can trace throughout your life, then, bad choices?
TUCKER: Yes, I can.
KING: What happened on that terrible day?
TUCKER: The details of what happened that night, I don't share. I mean,
that's the worst night of my life, and I don't -- with how I feel now, I
don't relive that night.
KING: Do you think it was another person?
TUCKER: Yes it was definitely.
KING: For the facts, for the benefit of the audience two people were
murdered that night.
TUCKER: Two people were brutally murdered.
KING: By you and your boyfriend?
KING: What were you doing there?
TUCKER: We were there to do -- there's a term called "case the joint
KING: Look it over.
TUCKER: Right, yes.
KING: You were going rob?
TUCKER: Not that night, no. We were looking the place over to at some
point in time that night go back there, and go in and steal a motorcycle.
That night was a spur of the moment decision to go over there. And
unfortunately, two people were killed with...
KING: And brutally killed?
TUCKER: Brutally, yes.
KING: How, to yourself, do you explain that? I know you don't want to --
so forgetting the details, how do you explain it to yourself that I was
involved in a violent slaying?
TUCKER: I can't -- I can't make sense out of it. I don't know how to
make sense out of it except that the choices that I made to do drugs, to
buckle to peer pressure and everything else -- it was inevitable that
something like that was going to happen in my life.
KING: Why for a motorcycle?
TUCKER: Well, that's -- I could sit here and share that with you. But I
don't want to take away from what happened that night, you know? I mean,
I can give you all kind of excuses for that, but I don't want to do that.
KING: In other words you could rationalize it too in a lot of -- were you
high that night?
TUCKER: Yes, I was.
KING: Did you enjoy the violence?
TUCKER: I said I did. I was -- at that time in my life, I was very
excited about doing different crazy, violent things, yes. It was a part
of me that was used to fit in with the crowd that I was hanging around to
KING: The people who were killed were not known to you, right, or were
TUCKER: The male was. Jerry was. He was married to my best friend.
KING: And the girl, unknown?
KING: And both you and your boyfriend participated in the death of both
KING: Were you caught right away?
TUCKER: No. It was about a month and a half -- or a little over a month
KING: What -- did you leave town?
TUCKER: No. We stayed there. We not only stayed -- it was really crazy,
Larry. I mean, that -- that lifestyle was so crazy. I don't think I can
explain it except to me, I was so spaced out on drugs all the time that
it really didn't seem real to me.
KING: Did you walk around with any guilt?
TUCKER: I not only didn't walk around without any guilt, I was proud of
thinking that I had finally measured up to the big boys.
KING: Your boyfriend was proud of you?
TUCKER: Yes. Isn't that sick? That's crazy.
KING: No guilt?
TUCKER: None, none back then. I didn't -- I didn't care about anybody.
I didn't care about myself. I didn't place any value on myself or
KING: What took them so long to get you, over a month?
TUCKER: I don't -- I don't really know except...
KING: You were in the town where it happened?
TUCKER: We were in the town.
KING: Were you questioned?
TUCKER: Yes, we were questioned, yes.
KING: How were you arrested?
TUCKER: Danny's brother, my partner in crime, my boyfriend, his brother
came in and he had a wire on him and he sat down on the bed, and he asked
us about the crime, and we shared detail for detail every step from what
happened that night, what made us decide to go over there all the way
through to when everything was over. And as soon as he got all of that,
he left out of the house, and the police busted in.
KING: Were you angry at him? Must have been then?
TUCKER: I was shocked. I was probably a little bit angry at him and my
sister, and yet, I wanted to understand. I mean, we're the ones who put
them through it. I am the one that did that to them.
So while I wanted to be angry, I couldn't be.
KING: What happened your partner in crime?
TUCKER: He died.
TUCKER: Liver. A liver disease.
KING: He was young?
TUCKER: Yes, he was young, about 42.
KING: He died in prison?
TUCKER: In jail, yes. He was -- he had gotten a new trial, and he went
back for that, and he died.
KING: He had a new trial, based on what?
TUCKER: Legal errors in his trial.
KING: You were tried separately?
TUCKER: I don't think I understand the system good enough to say why
except that maybe they wanted to make sure and convict me -- they felt
like I was...
KING: Had a better case against you?
TUCKER: I think so. They thought I was the ring leader in everything and
KING: Really. It was your idea?
TUCKER: I believe that's what they thought.
KING: Was it your idea?
TUCKER: No it wasn't.
KING: We'll be right back with Karla Faye. Don't go away.
KING: We're back with Karla Faye Tucker here at Mountain View Unit, Texas
Department of Criminal Justice in Gatesville, Texas. There is a window
here. You're not allowed to be with a prisoner. And that's any prisoner,
unless it's a model prisoner, right, that gets a chance -- and this under
here is so we can hear each other. It's a grating.
KING: So if you can't -- if you put your hand there and I put -- we don't
feel each other?
TUCKER: No, we don't.
KING: You're married and you don't know your husband, right? I mean, you
have not touched your husband?
TUCKER: I've hugged him when he used to come in here with a minister,
yes. But, have we known each other intimately, physically? No, we
KING: OK, back to when your boyfriend died, were you sad? Were you over
that in your life, or was that -- where were you at that point?
TUCKER: I was sad for several reasons, but at that point, Danny and I
were not -- were no longer together. I was sad, certainly, because he
died. And what he was going through in his life at the time, I was sad
for that, and just some other things, just what he was going through.
KING: You have been in prison since that day you were arrested?
KING: Some prison or other -- jail, prison?
TUCKER: I was in jail.
KING: Did you plead guilty?
TUCKER: I did not plead guilty at the beginning of my trial, but only
because my attorneys had said not to. If I had that to do again, I
KING: Because you would have gotten life, right?
TUCKER: Well, no, they still would have tried to seek the death penalty
on me, but I didn't -- I had no concept of the legal system. I didn't
understand it, so I had to trust the expertise of my attorneys.
KING: And had you plead guilty, what would the difference have been?
TUCKER: We probably would have gone directly into a punishment phase, I
believe, of the trial instead of just the guilt-innocence phase and then
the punishment phase.
KING: Did you testify at the trial?
TUCKER: Yes, I did.
KING: And did not admit to what you did?
TUCKER: No I did admit it.
KING: Oh, finally, when you testified you did?
TUCKER: Yes, I had already -- at that point, I had already admitted what
I did. I had already told the truth about everything. It's just that I
believe my attorneys plead not guilty to capital murder, because they
didn't believe it was a capital offense.
KING: That being?
TUCKER: Because we didn't plan on going over there that night.
KING: It wasn't premeditated.
TUCKER: Wasn't premeditated, right.
KING: The state said otherwise and the jury agreed with the state, right?
TUCKER: Yes, they did.
KING: When they said you were sentenced to death, who said that, the
TUCKER: The judge, because the jury handed in a unanimous vote.
KING: How long ago was that?
TUCKER: That was 14 years ago; 1984.
KING: Were you brought to this prison?
KING: So you have been here for 14 years?
KING: Before we talk about what's happened to you since, tell us what
death row is like in a women's prison?
TUCKER: It's -- for me, personally, it's different than -- was different
than jail. I've never been out in general population or in any other
KING: You can't mingle with the prisoners?
TUCKER: No I can't.
KING: But you can with death row inmates?
KING: So there's how many of you?
TUCKER: There's seven of us, right now. And we -- the area that -- I am
not there right now because of my status, but we are confined...
KING: Status being, you have a date?
TUCKER: Right. We are confined to one building. This is were we work.
There's a death row work-capable program that we're allowed to work if we
want to, or if we meet the criteria. And inside the building we are
housed in, we have a work area where we make what they call parole pal
dolls, and it used to be TCD Industry but now it's just TCD Work.
KING: You make dolls that are sold?
TUCKER: Yes, that the state sells to state employees and they're
KING: And what do you do with the money?
TUCKER: I don't get it, the state gets it.
KING: Do they feed you well?
TUCKER: Yes, they do. They feed us a lot, let me say that. Let me just
KING: They give you a lot to eat?
TUCKER: They give us a lot to eat.
KING: Are the other -- are you all friends?
TUCKER: Yes, we are friends in a forced environment. I mean...
KING: No choice.
TUCKER: Right, not by choice, but by the grace of God, we have chosen to
KING: Do you -- before this conversion of sorts, did you have dreams
about what you did that night?
KING: Before you...
TUCKER: ... before I gave my life to the Lord?
TUCKER: I -- no, I don't -- I didn't really think about it except telling
people, or bragging about it. It's not something that weighed heavily on
me. It wasn't really real to me, in the first place. It was like...
KING: Dream? Nightmare?
TUCKER: No, it was like reading a book and sharing about and I say not to
minimize what happened, because it was horrible. But, unfortunately, in
the state of mind that I was in back then, nothing really mattered to me,
KING: We'll be right back with Karla Faye on LARRY KING LIVE, this again
was tapped earlier today for broadcast tonight, don't go away.
KING: We're back with Karla Faye Tucker. What -- hard to put this --
what's it like to kill someone?
TUCKER: It's horrible. I mean, to know that you take a human life, a
very valuable, precious human life -- it's probably the most horrible
thing anybody could do, and I try not to take myself back to that night.
KING: OK. Do you feel that if circumstances were different -- let's say
you hadn't found the Lord you found and the feelings you have -- do you
deserve to be executed by the state?
TUCKER: I deserved a big punishment. I personally don't believe in
capital punishment. I don't believe in abortion or euthanasia, so...
KING: Therefore, no one should be capitally punished by the state, male,
TUCKER: I believe that -- male, female, otherwise. But certainly, a very
serious sentence for something like that needs to be done, yes.
KING: The argument for you gains a great deal of attention because you're
a woman. We could dare say if you were man we wouldn't be here and you
wouldn't be getting a lot of attention, unless a lot of prominent people
were speaking up for you.
Do you think that's true?
TUCKER: I think that it's true that a lot of people are -- this is
bringing attention to a lot of people. I think it's very unfortunate,
though, because male or female, people need to be considered individually
on their own merits, and there are certainly men out there who have
drastically changed their lives through the love of God. Jesus has gone
down into their hearts and completely changed them, and they have become
caring people. They have changed. They're now helping others. And they
deserve to -- for that to be acknowledged in their lives, too.
KING: In other words, a historic case years ago in New York, the great
attorney Louis Nizar, (ph) a man who had committed some heinous crimes.
He proved to the parole board and the governor at that time, years ago,
that this was a different man. That the man they would have -- and they
didn't execute him. The man they would have executed was not the man who
committed the crime. Do you feel you're a different person?
TUCKER: Yes, I am.
KING: Is that part of your argument?
TUCKER: That is definitely part of the argument on our writ, and part of
my argument, or part of my appeal to them is that when you change from
being a part of the problem to being a part of the solution, allow
somebody that -- if I was in here still messing up, still hurting people
or trying to kill people, I know that the parole board would strike that
against me in a major way. So if there is a change for the positive, and
it's proven, and it's factual, why can't that be considered?
KING: Now, if you are commuted to life, which is what you want, you are
then parole eligible, too, right?
TUCKER: Eventually, not right away.
KING: You agree, you should be here a long time?
TUCKER: Yes, I support long sentences.
KING: Now, the way it works is -- before we found out about how you got
married and everything -- is the parole board meets, they make a
recommendation to the governor. If they recommend no clemency, he can
reverse that. If they recommend clemency he can still execute, right?
KING: So it eventually is his decision?
TUCKER: Yes, I found out, though, I don't think they meet together. I
think that's one of the things we're looking into. I don't think the
parole board actually meets together to make that decision.
KING: You mean they make it in different parts of the state?
TUCKER: That's what I am finding out.
KING: You don't sit down with a full board?
KING: How many are there on the board?
TUCKER: There are 18.
KING: Eighteen. And it's a vote -- I guess. We'll find out tomorrow
night. By the way, we're going to do a whole show on your case tomorrow
TUCKER: I am going to be keeping up with that, too.
KING: You'll be watching, I'm sure. Your husband is included in that
KING: So we'll find out a lot more tomorrow. But, basically it's in
George Bush II's hands, right?
TUCKER: I think so. I mean, he has to have a recommendation from the
parole board and he wants -- the parole board makes a recommendation. He
can either act on it or deny it.
KING: The Supreme Court turned you down, right?
TUCKER: Yes, they did.
KING: So this is your last hope?
KING: He can give a 30-day reprieve I understand?
KING: So if it went from February 3, he could send it until March 3.
KING: But beyond that you need divine help, and the help of people, as
TUCKER: Yes, God uses people.
KING: How did you find God?
TUCKER: I was in the county. About three months after I had been...
KING: County jail?
TUCKER: Harris County Jail.
KING: That's Houston?
And a ministry came to that jail to do a service, a puppet show, one
night and everybody in my tank was going out to the puppet show and I
didn't want to stay alone in my tank, so I decided to go with them and
socialize in church. Well, actually, when I walked through the door I
never said a word, so I never did any socializing, but when I went back
to my tank that night, something got down in there and I had grabbed a
Bible. I stole this Bible not realizing Bibles were given out free in
jail, 'cause I'd never been there. So...
KING: Never were a church goer or anything?
TUCKER: I was never -- no. And had never been in jail. I didn't know
that they gave out Bibles out free in here to those who needed them. So I
took this Bible into my cell, and I hid way back in the corner so nobody
could see me, because I was like really proud. I didn't want anybody to
think I was being weak and reading this Bible. I realize now, you have to
be stronger to walk with the Lord in here than you do to not walk with
It's a whole lot harder, let me tell you. But anyway, that night I
started reading the Bible. I didn't know what I was reading and before I
knew it, I was just -- I was in the middle of my floor on my knees and I
was just asking God to forgive me.
KING: How do we know, as a lot of people would ask who don't know you,
that this isn't a jail house conversion?
TUCKER: I don't try and convince people of that. For me, if you can't
look at me and see it then nothing I can say to you is going to convince
you. I just live it every day and I reach out to people and it's up them
to receive from the Lord the same way I did when somebody came to me.
And then there are fruits in people's life. There is evidence,
consistent evidence, in a person's life.
And I'll tell you what, I've been in here 14 1/2 years, and it can be a
pressure cooker. I mean, you have different personalities.
You have people who are still violently acting out in here. If I was
going to do anything, it would have happened by now. But it hasn't.
KING: We'll be back with more of Karla Faye Tucker. Don't go away.
KING: We're back with Karla Faye Tucker.
Do you think that a part of the anger that the state may have or people
may have, is the method that the victims died?
TUCKER: Oh, yes.
KING: Because there were axes -- axes were involved, a lot of blood. It
was a horrible death, right? Do you think that plays into this?
TUCKER: Yes, I do. And if -- if you were to execute me, you could,
without using me being a continual threat to society, if someone wanted
to, they could using the brutal -- the brutality of that crime itself --.
KING: In other words, ax you to death?
TUCKER: Yeah. I mean, it was horrible. It was. And there are people
out there who are in pain because -- I mean, every single day they have
to think about that. They live it every day with birthdays and holidays,
and maybe a smell that triggers a memory, so it's not -- I -- I realize
that. I mean, I -- I think about them all the time. And I know that
they're going through pain.
KING: What, the brother wants you to be commuted, right?
TUCKER: Yes, he does.
KING: The brother of the woman or the man?
TUCKER: The brother of the woman.
KING: He'll be with us tomorrow night too.
KING: He thinks you should not be executed.
KING: Do you think about being executed?
TUCKER: I have thought about it. It's not something that I focus on.
KING: You have got to think about it.
TUCKER: But I think about it now more than I used to, but I realize that
today, there's stuff to be done. And I have to allow God to keep me
focused on what's for today while I share my heart with him about what
may happen whenever. But if I let myself think too much about yesterday
or tomorrow, in that sense, I don't think I could stay as focused, so --
and you have got to stay focused on...
KING: This is the fourteenth.
KING: Less than three weeks.
KING: Do you think about the date February 3rd a lot?
TUCKER: I don't -- I don't think about it as much as I think about other
things, like -- as much as I thought about today and prayed about today
and this interview right here. I was pretty focused on that for a short
while, you know, just really praying it through.
KING: Did you meet -- you met your husband through -- he was a minister
-- is a minister?
TUCKER: He'll be there tomorrow. He is a minister?
KING: And you met him through -- he ministered to you?
TUCKER: Yes, he did.
KING: And you fell in love?
TUCKER: Yes, we did.
KING: Did he say to you -- did you have a discussion that this marriage
won't lead anywhere, even if you are commuted, you'll be here a long
TUCKER: No. We counted all of the costs before we got married. And we
believed that at some point, we will be together. That's not what we got
married for. It's not what we live for every day.
KING: Why did you get married?
TUCKER: Because we love each other. Because it was God's will.
KING: How were you married if you couldn't touch?
TUCKER: By proxy.
KING: Someone appeared for you. There were witnesses, like they do at a
TUCKER: Yes and someone stood in for us. He has someone who is just like
his spiritual mentor, someone he loves very much that stood in, that was
his best man and his wife stood in for me.
KING: When he comes to see you it's the same as me?
TUCKER: Yes, it is.
KING: That's it?
KING: We'll be back with more, don't go away.
KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE. Karla Faye Tucker, will, if the
governor or if the parole board doesn't stop it, be executed on February
3rd for a brutal murder she was involved with her former boyfriend, who
has since passed away. Two people were killed. They were axed and
bludgeoned to death. And the victims' bodies had more than 20 stab or
puncture wounds. A three foot ax was left embodied in Deborah Thornton's
(ph) chest, which you did.
TUCKER: No, I didn't.
KING: He did that?
KING: When you hear this and you have come through so much since this,
how do you -- and you feel new, how do you separate the two for yourself?
TUCKER: It's -- it's very hard, except to know that -- that the -- that
the things that were in me when I did that 14 1/2 years ago, I guess I
would say it this way -- that God reached down inside of me and just
literally uprooted all of that stuff and took it out, and poured himself
KING: Because that is unimaginable, right?
TUCKER: It is.
KING: That is not imaginable?
TUCKER: And when I think about that I was a person who did that back
then, I -- I really have to -- it's very hard. I really have to try and
not think about that. I think about...
KING: But it's why you're here.
TUCKER: Yes. And I think about the pain that others are going through
because of it. I don't forget that for one minute. And I don't allow
myself to. But the actual crime -- I think I would I go nuts if I didn't
know the Lord, having to think about that.
KING: He'd probably -- you'd probably want to die?
TUCKER: Do I want to die now?
KING: Had you not found the Lord?
TUCKER: Oh, probably I would have ended up dead, for sure. I -- if I
didn't know the Lord, I think that I would have just continued not
caring. I mean, in the state that I was in, I just don't think I would
KING: How do you get everybody on your side? I mean, by "everybody" I
mean people on the left opposed to capital punishment are for you.
People like Pat Robertson are for you.
KING: How did that grounds well begin?
TUCKER: I didn't get them for me. God did. And what I believe is that
what they're really speaking out for is for the cause of Christ. I
believe that they see what -- what Jesus Christ has done in a life, the
way he has transformed a life. And what they're speaking out for is
saying, he's real. If he did this in this life, in this person who did
something like that, he can do that in anybody's life.
And he can take a person that is out there doing something horrible, and
he can stop them from doing that, and he can turn -- and Jesus can turn
them around and use that as a witness and a testimony to stop others from
doing it. I can witness to people who have been on drugs or into
prostitution or into all of that, and they'll listen to me because they
know I understand and can relate to them. And I can keep them from going
down that road, because I can let them know. I changed. You can too. So
that's what they're speaking up for.
KING: Are you ever angry that God didn't let you find him before these
TUCKER: I have certainly questioned him about that. I -- I do question
him -- why -- why does stuff like this have to happen, for someone to
have to come to know you Lord? And I just believe in his sovereignty and
he knows what he is doing. And he certainly didn't wish it on -- he
didn't plan it. I chose that.
KING: So you're asking for a commutation because I have changed, I am not
the person I was, I believe in the Lord, I am a good person, I can help
people, I don't deserve to die. Is that, in essence, the summation of
what you're asking the state of Texas?
TUCKER: That's, yes, that's pretty good, to say that I am no longer a
continual threat to society, which is one of the things, in order to give
a death sentence, you -- a question has to be answered: Would this person
be a continual threat to society and do bodily harm to somebody? no, I
KING: Governor Bush has been quoted as saying -- he has never pardoned
KING: And quoted as saying "if the crime fits the penalty, the penalty is
given," yet you remain optimistic.
TUCKER: Because my hope is in the Lord. He can change hearts. If he
could change my heart and now I was 14 1/2 years ago, he can change
anybody's heart to do -- and what I firmly believe is, if God is going to
allow this to happen, he has a purpose for it. If he has a purpose for
my life to continue on, he'll change the hearts of the governor and the
parole board. He will help them to see what can be done through a
KING: And if they do not, would that cause you to doubt your faith?
TUCKER: No I would not.
KING: You would go into that room -- I guess it's a room, huh?
TUCKER: I would. I would go in there still speaking out for the love of
God. I mean, if he doesn't -- if he allows this to happen, that's OK.
He's already saved my life. My life has already been saved. And he gave
me a second chance. I didn't deserve it. I didn't give two people a
second chance 14 years ago. They didn't have a chance to go on and to --
and to have a wonderful marriage and stuff like that, and by his mercy, I
was given that, so whatever he wants to do with my life now, I'll walk
that with him, whatever he chooses. I am just thankful that I got a
KING: We'll be back with more right after this.
KING: How many women on the parole board, Karla?
TUCKER: I don't know.
KING: You know it has become a woman's cause, even though you say it
shouldn't be and that's not the reason you're doing it, you realize --
what, the last woman executed in Texas was?
TUCKER: Eighteen something.
KING: Way over a 100 years ago.
KING: And you don't hear of it much. There have been few in the United
KING: Don't you think that's part of it? We don't take the lives of
women and children.
TUCKER: We -- that is certainly in the hearts of people. I mean, I have
often said this when I hear somebody bring this up -- if a ship is going
down somewhere, who do you tell to get to safety first? Women and
TUCKER: Yes. So there is something inside of us, either bred in there or
naturally, that we grow up wanting to protect women and children, and
yet, there's the issue of, if women can do it just like men can do it,
then they need to pay for it too, so I -- it just...
KING: You don't see it as a woman's issue?
TUCKER: I don't. I really don't.
KING: You see it as if this were a man, you would commute the man, but it
would be a long sentence?
TUCKER: Yes I see that. If it were man coming before them with the same
KING: Exact same thing.
TUCKER: ... I think they should consider it. I think they should look at
it based on him as an individual, not as a man, not as a woman, but as an
KING: How do you get along here with the guards, the warden? How are you
TUCKER: I am treated great. I get along with everybody. And it's
probably because I treat people how I want to be treated. If I would
want you to treat me a certain way, I am going to treat you that way,
whether you treat me nice or not.
KING: Are you a source of consolation to the other women on death row?
TUCKER: I try to be. I think we're a source of consolation to each
other. We comfort one another. We minister to each other. We're there
for each other, most of us are.
KING: Are any in there for like -- all there for killing someone?
TUCKER: They're all there for -- accused of killing someone.
KING: Some say they didn't?
KING: You are not saying you didn't? You know you did?
TUCKER: I definitely, unfortunately did, yes.
KING: How do you adjust to life in here? It's one thing to adjust to
life when you can be part of the prison community and know there's a date
you're going to get out.
KING: How do you adjust to a date when you're possibly not going to be
TUCKER: By the grace of God, you just -- I know that no matter what, God
is walking with me through this, and I can handle it. We -- nobody in
this world is exempt from bad things, from tribulations. There are people
that face death every day all around them, even in third word countries.
How do they do it? I do it by the grace of God because I know he walks
with me and because I know that this is not my final stop, you know?
KING: Well, if it isn't -- the fear should be greatly reduced.
TUCKER: There's no fear.
KING: You're going to go to a better place, right?
TUCKER: There's no fear and when people ask me that and I say there's
none, most of them don't believe me. They sort of project onto me what
they think I should be going through, or what they might be going
KING: The urge is you want to live. You want to live or you wouldn't be
going through this.
TUCKER: Yes, I do want to.
TUCKER: And my heart is prepared to go. When I think about that Jesus
asked, before he went to the cross, he asked God for the cup to be
removed, and if he can ask it, I don't have to feel ashamed to ask that
either. I would love to be able to live on. I have a lot of love in me,
a lot. And Jesus gave that to me. There's a lot of people out there who
don't feel loved.
There's a lot of people out there who need to know that just how they are
-- they are loved. They're worth being loved. And I can give that. I
want to be with my husband, you know? I want him and I to be able to
I can do that from right in here too, and I can do it and I will do it
ever every day no matter when I leave this earth, but I am not ashamed to
say, yes, I would love to go on and to share that kind of love with
KING: Would you like a child?
TUCKER: Yes. And if you can get them while they're still young and guide
them, there was a point I remember my mother used to tell me you can be
anything you want to be. You can do anything you want. And then she left
it right there. OK, what, mother? Guide me. You're the one supposed to
be guiding me into this. Tell me what I am supposed to do. And where was
KING: Do you get a lot of visitors?
TUCKER: Yes, I do.
KING: We'll be right back with more. We'll ask about that and a lot of
other things. Don't go away.
KING: Tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE, we'll be in Los Angeles, and the
entire program will be devoted to what you're watching tonight, and
Karla's husband will be with us, and so too will the relative of one of
the deceased in this matter, and Pat Robertson will join us.
How did you and Pat get together?
TUCKER: Well, when I did an interview in '92, one of the correspondents
for the 700 Club saw it, and she contacted me and asked if I would do an
interview for the 700 Club. And we corresponded over the course of about
a year, and then I agreed to do the interview, and so it began that way.
And then "60 Minutes" did something. But this didn't get along of
attention until the Supreme Court said the final no, right?
KING: And now there has been a lot of people?
KING: The prison has been cooperative in doing the interview, they have
been wonderful with us.
TUCKER: They have. We have good people here.
KING: Would that be for any prisoner?
TUCKER: Yes, it would be.
KING: So you don't think you're being made an exception of?
TUCKER: No. I mean they have media -- the guys do interviews a lot too,
so anyone who wants to do interviews they'd go through Huntsville's
public relations and set it up and be able do them too.
KING: Do you attempt to write to the governor? Do you personally attempt
to reach out?
TUCKER: No. I haven't done that. I have made a statement that will go
in with our commutation package, and I have already sent it in to the
parole board, to officers, I guess parole officers came here. And I gave
my statement to them. But we will send the whole packet in at some point.
KING: Do you think -- they say this -- politics and everything -- that
politics are involved? That part of the decision is, will it hurt me
with the electorate or help me with the electorate if I decide this? You
do think that?
TUCKER: Oh, yes, I am not crazy, I do believe that.
KING: And Texans like capital punishment?
KING: So you're in trouble there?
TUCKER: Naturally speaking, it would look like there's no hope, but I
don't, I am not going look at that. I just -- my hope is in God. If I
was to look at what's going on naturally, it would be almost impossible.
I mean, everything is stacked -- this gender issue is almost forcing
their hand to say, we're not going to let a woman get by with it, you
KING: You're between a rock and a hard place?
TUCKER: Very much so.
KING: Your pluses are also your minuses?
TUCKER: Yes but see my faith and my hope is not in that. If God wants to
turn their hearts he can. He's well able.
KING: What do your lawyers say?
KING: Your chances.
TUCKER: They're hopeful too. As a matter of fact, they're pretty excited
about it right now, not just for me -- well, especially for me. But for
those after me, because the writ that we have is going to affect a lot of
people. And naturally speaking, if it doesn't help where I am at right
now, it can help a whole lot -- a whole lot of men and women after me,
because it's causing the system to -- to look at what they're doing. I
mean, where are the guidelines for commutation? If we have this, when
can we use it? There are no guidelines for using it.
KING: There's no written "prisoner shall be commuted if..."
TUCKER: Right, so either don't have it or if you have it, don't be
ashamed to use it, or be bold enough to use it. And if we have a prison
system that says they want to rehabilitate somebody, when that
happens in a person then acknowledge it. Don't be scared to say it's
happening. Say, see, our system is working.
KING: Some believe it's just to punish.
TUCKER: But let me say this on that. If you send somebody in here in a
certain frame of mind just to punish them, what about when they walk out
of here? Do we want them walking out the same way? It would be easy to
say, lock them up and throw away and forget about them. But the fact is
eventually, probably about 98 percent of the people that walk in here are
going to walk out of here. How do we want them to walk out? Do we want
them to walk out the same way they walked in just because prison is meant
just to punish? Or should our prison systems be worked in a way -- set
up in a way to help rehabilitate people, not at the expense of taxpayers
or whatever but just because we want our society to be safe. And when
the offenders walk out, we want them to walk out a better person.
KING: Don't want to harden them.
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Karla Faye right
KING: A couple of other things -- do you ever get used to no freedom?
TUCKER: Get used to no freedom?
KING: You have no freedom.
TUCKER: I do have freedom. I mean, not outside of these fences, but
certainly, the freedom to move around within -- within the confines. To
get used to it -- I have adjusted. To hope for something different,
KING: Do you have a bare kind of cell, or is it -- what's it like?
TUCKER: Well, it -- I have all kind of stuff in my cell. I have
personalized it as much as I can with my pictures and -- I mean, I have
KING: Letters people write to you?
TUCKER: Letters, yes.
KING: Do you know why you and your husband can't hug each other?
TUCKER: Because of the status. Death row inmates in Texas are not
allowed to have contact visits. I don't understand that, because we are
not going to hurt our families just like general population isn't.
KING: What is that -- that's strictly punishment?
TUCKER: I would say so. And I don't understand it because there are
people out in population who have committed heinous crimes and escaped
the death penalty or whatever, and they're allowed, because of good
behavior to have contact with their families, and I think we should be
allowed the same thing on a merit system thing. If we have good behavior
and a good hall card we should be allowed to have contact too.
KING: I guess no one ever said it was fair.
TUCKER: No. It's not fair. That probably was bad wording because
nothing is real fair in this world. Wasn't fair that I was given a new
chance, and my victims weren't. So...
KING: Yeah. And it wasn't fair to them?
TUCKER: No, it wasn't. So I understand it not being fair.
KING: Do you ever think about the injection?
TUCKER: I have thought about it, yes. I have.
KING: Do you think it's humane?
TUCKER: I think that for capital punishment, if there's a way it must be
done, I think that's a humane way. I don't agree with it, but I guess if
we're going to have it in this society, it's a humane way. Is there any
humane way to kill a person? Not that that's -- yes.
KING: Is there support among the other inmates? Are they all rooting for
TUCKER: Very much so. Very much so.
KING: So you're a close bond?
TUCKER: There's support from all over TDC from inmates everywhere.
KING: You have had no indication, right -- we'll find out more tomorrow
about how the parole board votes on this and what goes to the governor
and everything. So you're really last straw here?
KING: Would you like to take a minute and say whatever you'd like?
TUCKER: Um -- just thank you for being here. Thank you for allowing us
to be on your show, and thank you for the support from everybody. And
there are people out there hurting too, so we need to think about them
KING: If people want to write you, they can write you right?
KING: Mountain View Unit Texas Department Of Criminal Justice,
Gatesville, Texas. And can average citizens, ordinary citizens, write to
KING: I guess they can and to the parole board, right? Supporting you or
not supporting you?
KING: It would be interesting to hear their opinion.
KING: Finally, you remain up.
KING: You have to explain that to me a little more. It can't just be
TUCKER: Yes, it can. It's called the joy of the Lord. I don't -- when
you have done something that I have done, like what I have done, and you
have been forgiven for it, and you're loved, that has a way of so
changing you. I mean, I have experienced real love. I know what real
love is. I know what forgiveness is, even when I did something so
horrible. I know that because God forgave me and I accepted what Jesus
did on the cross. When I leave here, I am going to go be with him.
KING: Tomorrow night, part two with a lot of people involved from our
studios in Los Angeles. From Gatesville, Texas, good night.
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